BY MOSES NJAGIH
The chopper that crashed in Ngong killing Internal Security minister George Saitoti and five others did not meet police specifications on takeoff weight, commission of inquiry investigating the crash was told.
Director General of Public Procurement Oversight Authority (PPOA) Morris Juma further told the commission that there were several anomalies in the procurement process of the chopper, which were done in disregard of law.
Appearing before the Justice Kalpana Rawal-led commission, Juma said the Eurocopter bid should have been disqualified for failing to meet the threshold of takeoff weight as specified.
He said according to police specifications, they wanted a chopper that could manage a minimum takeoff weight of 5,000 pounds, but instead purchased a Eurocopter chopper that had 4,600 pounds takeoff weight. On the contrary, the Bell helicopter model could manage a takeoff weight of 6,000 pounds, he said.
The PPOA boss revealed that the technical committee that recommended the purchase of the Eurocopter over the Bell had to work out an average, in the process tampering with the specificities, which is not allowed in the procurement laws.
“If the committee had difficulties understanding the specifications contained in the Eurocopter bid, it should have sought clarifications from the manufacturer instead of making assumptions and altering the specifics to suit the bidder,” said Juma on cross examination by Saitoti’s lawyer Fred Ngatia.
Technically locked out
The witness further punched holes in the manner in which the technical committee communicated their decisions to the two bidders, saying the team deliberately ensured that the loser did not have recourse according to the law.
He said that while public procurement law requires that bidding teams be informed of the outcome at the same time, the technical team deliberately communicated to the losing bidder more than 14 days after the winner had been informed that his bid was successful.
“The winner Eurocopter was informed on May 26, 2010, while the loser was notified on June 13, more than 14 days within which he is allowed by law to lodge an appeal or challenge the award of the tender. This means that Bell was technically locked out of any appeal,” he said.