RESTRICTED TENDERING

Senators want Vihiga governors probed over Sh13m morgue tender

Watchdog team asks EACC to initiate investigations against former and current governors and their senior officers

In Summary

•Senate County Public Accounts and Investment Committee recommended the probe after responded unsatisfactorily to audit requires

Vihiga Governor Wilber Otichilo
ON THE SPOT: Vihiga Governor Wilber Otichilo
Image: FILE

 

Senators have asked EACC to probe Vihiga Governor Wilber Otichillo, his predecessor Moses Akaranga and senior officers in the current and former administrations over the stalled Sh13 million mortuary block at Mbale Referral  Hospital.

The Senate County Public Accounts and Investment Committee on Wednesday asked the Ethics and Anti- Corruption Commission to investigate if the officers committed illegalities in the procurement of the project’s contractor.

The team chaired by Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang recommended the probe after Otichillo failed to testify before the lawmakers.

“The investigation will cover people who were there previously and the people who are there at present because they have continued to make payments,” Kajwang said.

A report by the Auditor General on the financial operations of the Vihiga County Executive for 2017-18 shows the county contracted a firm through restricted tendering in January 2015 to implement the project within six months.

However, the project is yet to be completed.

The auditor said officers who procured the contractor did not provide evidence to show how the contractor was identified and notified about the works. No tender register and tender opening minutes were made available for audit examination.

“The contractor did not provide performance bond equivalent to 10 per cent of the contract sum from a reputable financial institution approved by Public Procurement and Oversight Authority in favour of the county government before commencing execution of work,” the report reads.

The auditor also said no tender evaluation minutes were provided.

Otichillo on Wednesday told the committee his officers procured the contractor – Air Touch Cooling System - because of the urgent need to scale up storage facilities.

“As a matter of emergency and revitalisation of the health sector, a restricted tendering method was used,” the governor said.

But the senators were not convinced. Kajwang asked the EACC to probe why the tender evaluation minutes were not signed by all members of the evaluation committee and establish why the officers failed to submit the performance bond.

“If it was an emergency as you have stated, why has this project taken more than three years instead of six months?” Meru Senator Mithika Linturi asked.

Ottichilo said the project stalled after the contractor vacated the site because of non-payment by the previous administration.

The committee also ordered Otichillo to immediately recover outstanding imprests of Sh58 million advanced to various staff or they be surcharged.

“You and your finance executive must take responsibility for the Sh58 million un-surrendered imprests,” Kajwang said.

 

edited by peter obuya