TENDER WARS

CMC Motors wants Kibicho arrested over Sh12bn cop cars tender

Directors claim under-handed dealings and personal interests by senior government officials in the Sh12.6 billion tender for the leasing of police vehicles.

In Summary

• In 2013, Jubilee started leasing vehicles for the National Police Service to eliminate headaches of ownership and vehicles maintenance.

• Justice John Mativo stopped the ministry from processing the tender but the ministry went ahead and advertised. On Friday the winner is expected to be notified of the award.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto in one of the 1200 leased vehicles for the National Police Service at Uhuru Park yesterday. PICTURE REBECCA NDUKU/DPPS
President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto in one of the 1200 leased vehicles for the National Police Service at Uhuru Park yesterday. PICTURE REBECCA NDUKU/DPPS

CMC Motors has urged the order the arrest and prosecution of Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho for disobeying an order that against calling for bids in the Sh12.6 billion tender for leased police vehicles.

The management is trying urgently to meet President Uhuru Kenyatta about the tender over what it calls "underhanded-dealings and personal interests by senior government officials,” the Star has learnt.

The award of tender is expected to be declared today.

 

The company is also seeking orders declaring any move by the ministry to call for bids, evaluate and award the contracts to be declared null and void. It made the application on Wednesday under a certificate of urgency.

“The court must send a strong message to those who are intent on disobeying court orders that such conduct will not be tolerated, no matter the status of the contemnors in the society,” the company's lawyer Migos Ogamba said in his application.

“Yes, we are processing our appointment with the President, what is going on is unfair business practices affecting investors," a senior official at CMC Motorstold the Star in confidence.

CMC Motors Group has seven branches across the country and sister companies in Uganda and Tanzania. It has exclusive distribution rights for Ford, Mazda, and Suzuki, New Holland tractors, Eicher and Renault trucks and buses across East Africa.

When the Jubilee administration took over in 2013, it embarked on a new programme of leasing vehicles for security agencies. Deputy President William Ruto said leasing would eliminate headaches associated with ownership and maintenance.

In the 2019-20 financial year, the Ministry of Interior was allocated Sh140 billion.

Toyota Kenya won the tender to lease  1,100 vehicles for the National Police Service.

 

The tender wars between the Interior ministry and CMC Motors go back to April this year when the initial tender to lease 1,290 police vehicles was floated.

Sometime in May, CMC Motors was announced the winner of the tender but before the company could start supplying the vehicles, the tender was terminated on June 25.

The tendering committee argued that the company was leased to the government at exorbitant prices.

The other argument for the cancellation of the tender was that the committee had not factored in Jubilee’s Big Four agenda which calls for consideration of local motor vehicle assembly, an argument CMC Motors has disputed.

On July 5, CMC Motors moved to the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board which ruled in its favour, saying it met all the tender requirements.

The ministry appealed the decision of PPARB and on September 18. The same board ruled in favour of the government, quashing its earlier ruling.

At this point, CMC Motors said it “read pressure and interference from external forces”.

On September 23, the ministry hurriedly opted to re-tender, forcing the company to move to High Court.

Eleven days ago, Justice John Mativo stopped the ministry from proceeding to process the tender, Despite Mativo’s order, the ministry went ahead and advertised.

Today, the winner is expected to be notified of the award.

“The rule of law must be protected at all times to ensure that the administration of justice and the honourable court must uphold the letter and the spirit of the Constitution and in doing so must superintend its orders to ensure that the same are obeyed. The interested party is in willful and blatant contempt of the orders issued and served upon them,” Ogamba said.

Ogamba said that despite the orders being served on the ministry, they have deliberately disobeyed them and went ahead to re-tender.

“The actions were further in contravention of the express provisions of Section 175 of the Public Procurement and Assets Disposal Act 2015, which prohibits any action to be undertaken before the lapse of the 14 days available for judicial review,” he said

At the same time in Parliament on Wednesday afternoon, Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi directed the Finance and National Planning Committee to investigate the controversial procurement and table a report within 21 days.

Muturi issued the orders after Endebess MP Robert Pukose raised concerns over the manner in which the tendering process, which he said was riddled with irregularities, was hurriedly being pushed.

“The procurement for the supply and delivery of the vehicles for use by the National Police Service was conducted on May 2019, but on account of the disputes that emanated from the tendering process, the intervention of PPARB was sought, which eventually led to the cancellation,” he told the House.

“Whereas the first tendering process took almost three months to finalise before the cancellation, the new process has taken unbelievably 10  days with the new tender process ostensibly intended to circumvent judicial and other administrative processes,” he added.

The second-term legislator noted that cancellation and repetition of the procurement process has caused massive inconvenience, leading to unwarranted wastage of manpower and resources that may eventually run into billions of shillings of taxpayers’ money.

He called on the President to take disciplinary action against government officers found culpable of unprofessional b behaviour and interfering with the tender process.

He said the “regrettable move would interfere with investor confidence in Kenya."

“This unwarranted haste seems to favour a specific bid which may have been pre-identified by the users in view of the fact that the new bidders were called by phone to submit bids leading to the irregular award. This award is also shrouded in secrecy and possible irregularities,” he said.