By PROTUS ONYANGO
Nairobi, Kenya: Nairobi County government is losing millions of shillings through a fresh scandal that involves doubling of prices by its suppliers.
The scam involves City Hall employees in the Procurement and Finance departments and some unscrupulous business people. Following the scam, a Chief Finance Officer who signed most of the payments and eight senior officers in the City Treasurer and Procurement have been indefinitely suspended to allow investigation into the scandal.
“An officer who feared he would be exposed if he lost his position offered a bribe Sh3 million to members of the County Public Service Board (CPSB) to be considered during the recent recruitment of the chief officers,” Nairobi County governor Dr Evans Kidero said. The officer was however not recruited and has since been suspended after being implicated in the scandal. Our investigations revealed that the City Hall officers in collusion with the suppliers sometimes inflate prices of some of the items they supply.
Documents in our possession show that one procurement officer through official order number 003966, dated February 20, authorised inflated payment to a supplier. The official order went through the Director of Procurement and City Treasurer offices before the supplier was paid Sh3.4 million. The trader was paid for supplying 500 pieces of 100 watts HPS lamps. Our investigations established that each lamp was initially supposed to cost Sh1500 but the County Government paid Sh6,800 for each lamp.
This means the supplier pocketed Sh2.65 million above what government would have paid had the Procurement and Treasury Departments stuck to the initial cost.
In a related scam, an advertising company that does marketing, media buying, sales and events pocketed Sh466,500 after the company’s officials indicated that the money would be paid for media buying in 18 media houses.
But only four media houses received payments while the officials pocketed the rest. The money was applied for by an officer in the cash office on September 30 for the facilitation for the national prayer service day. The prayer day was organised at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) under the theme ‘We Are One’, in honour of the victims of the Westgate Mall terrorist attack. However, some suppliers are blaming a secretary working in the office of a structural engineer at City Hall for not being paid for the services they render.
“This lady hides our files and makes it impossible for us to reach the engineer who has been here for a decade and only makes technical appearances at the office,” said one contractor.
He added, “The lady has become so powerful that for you to be paid, you have to bribe her with at least Sh10,000. If you are lucky to see the Engineer, he refers you to clear with the secretary.”