House team gives Safaricom Sh15b security contract nod

 Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Bob Collymore (left) and Kara chairman Richard Nyaga during the Kara/Safaricom luncheon yesterday. [PHOTO: Moses Omusula]

Kenya; A Parliamentary committee has dismissed objections raised on the awarding of a Sh14.9 billion security surveillance system contract to Safaricom and recommended that the House approves the tender.

Citing issues of 'National Security', the House Committee on Administration and National Security said  the single sourcing procurement method that was used in awarding the project to the telecommunications giant was justified and that the claims raised by competing companies against the tender lacked merit.

"The House approves the tender award and the signing of the contract to Safaricom for the provision of a National Surveillance, Communication and Control System for the National Police Service.

"The country is currently faced with multiple security challenges never witnessed before that threaten to compromise the national security of the county. Examples include the multiple terrorist attacks (Westgate attack), various other sporadic attacks (Mpeketonin attacks), the Al Qaeda," read the report.

The report is particularly hard hitting on one of the companies that lost the tender, Tetra Radio, and accuses it of misleading the committee on its ability to undertake the project. It claims the company had been formed just before the tender was advertised with the sole aim to bid for the tender which it subsequently lost.

"While the company stated that this is standard practice when rolling out Tetra network across the world, the committee was not satisfied with the explanation. The company failed to demonstrate to the committee that it had the financial capacity to pay the tender fee and did not produce any accounts to substantiate the same."

The Asman Kamama-led committee justified its recommendations, arguing that Safaricom has the requisite financial capability and experience in providing telecommunication network and infrastructure in the country, and that the procurement process was above board.

In its report, the National Security Committee said the contract, initially set to cover Nairobi region, should extend to the rest of the country as soon as possible.

Elsewhere, Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore said the mobile phone service provider has the capacity to develop surveillance systems for major towns in the country.

Collymore said Safaricom has the technical know- how to develop systems focused on providing security to the public and investors.

He also added that they were developing the Integrated Public Safety Communications and Surveillance System using their funds, giving the Government a grace period of one year to pay it back.

Speaking at a stakeholders meeting organised by the Kenya Alliance of resident Associations (KARA) in partnership with Safaricom in Nairobi yesterday, Collymore said there were several benefits of the Sh15 billion national surveillance system initiated by the Government to address security concerns.

The government also defended the system, saying it would elevate the work done by police in combating crime.

Inspector General of Police, David Kimaiyo said the system gives them an added advantage to stay ahead of criminals in the country.

"The system will assist in providing the police with an extra eye in arresting and prosecuting criminals - thereby improving public safety," said Kimaiyo.