Senate summons Health CS over controversial multibillion equipment leasing projects

Health CS Sicily Kariuki. [David Njaaga/Standard]

The actual cost of the controversial seven-year medical equipment leasing project remains a mystery even as Senate demands accountability.

Senators expressed reservations with the variation of annual allocation from an initial Sh4.5 billion to Sh6.1 billion -and Sh9.4b billion in the current budget -without any explanation from the Health ministry.

Some equipment were bought without existing infrastructure in some counties, while others had become obsolete, the legislators said.

They criticised the Health ministry for billing counties a standardised Sh200 million annually without receiving any requisition and without paying for repairs in advance.

Senate has summoned Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki to appear before it on Tuesday at 10am to shed more light on the matter and the ongoing rolling out of the universal healthcare programme.

Deputy Majority Leader Fatuma Dullo (Isiolo) set the stage for her colleagues to ventilate on the thorny issue when she sought a statement from the ministry. She questioned why counties were paying a flat rate figure, why the rate charged was exaggerated and why the contracts were not disclosed.

“There is no disclosure from the Government. Nyamira Senator Okongo Omogeni has sought copies of the contracts to no avail," Ms Dullo said.

"There was no adequate consultation with the counties and no public participation.

Underutilised equipment

“Counties are shouldering the repairs. We want answers why the ministry changed the cost yet the equipment runs without experts. The equipment is underutilised,” she added.

The matter was further complicated when Health Committee Chairman Michael Mbito (Trans Nzoia) claimed that Ms Kariuki has been giving them "hell" whenever they sought answers on the matter.

“Senate has been excluded on all matters relating to the project. The CS apologised and promised to engage but continues to ignore us,” he said.

Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo Marakwet) stressed that the Senate must help the country and the President prevent corruption, and not sit waiting for over two years to complain.

“We want to know if the Public Private Partnership Act was invoked. We want to know which experts were given to counties to support in making an informed decision on the matter,” said Murkomen.