Kenya Power, firms in fresh poles tender row

A Kenya Power employee at work along Kiambu-Kirigiti Road. (File, Standard)
The troubles of Kenya Power over supplies of treated poles are far from over with fresh fights emanating over an alleged quiet reactivation of a controversial multi-million 2015 tender.

At the centre of the new storm is an alleged secret re-allocation of awards using a three-year framework tender floated in 2015 but which expired two years ago.

The contract was awarded to 23 firms to supply thousands of treated poles to Kenya Power over three years.

Some of the suppliers have blown the whistle in the new controversy through a letter to Acting MD and CEO Jared Othieno. The fresh supplies were to begin flowing to Kenya Power yards from Monday this week.

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Rampant re-allocation

“There is rampant re-allocation of awards done without adhering to tendering process. We would like to bring to your attention that this is in total contravention of PPADA 2015 and executive order No 2 of 2018 that public procuring entities update and publicise tendering details through their website,” says the letter by one of the suppliers seen by the Sunday Standard.

According to sources privy to the details of the latest storm, individual bidders who had won the 2015 bid have been summoned to Kenya Power and reissued with contracts and Local Purchase Orders (LPO’s) to begin supplies. The upshot of the fresh storm therefore is that Kenya Power is restricting the lucrative business to a club of 23 companies who won four years ago.

Three months ago, Inter Tropical Timber Trading, one of the suppliers wrote to the acting CEO highlighting flagrant abuses of the restricted tendering processes through which huge sums of public money was lost.

The company complained that a cartel of suppliers had “locked” the poles business, were fixing prices and compromising on quality in collusion with senior Kenya Power staff. A recent Saturday Standard expose also revealed that two Cabinet Secretaries were sitting at the apex of a cartel running the energy sector tenders.

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Besides dabbling in the poles business, one of the CS’s was one of the suppliers of the doomed Kenya Power transformers which sank the former leadership of the parastatal. All the CS’s 300 pieces of transformers supplied at Sh400,000 per piece malfunctioned on being tested.

“We therefore request your institution as a matter of priority to consider open tendering system in your future tenders, where all Kenyans are eligible to participate competitively without fear, favors or discrimination,” the letter by Inter Tropical read.

Kenya Power has, however, since denied malpractices in the poles tenders insisting that all its tenders are done within the applicable laws.

“Due to capacity constraints, we may occasionally issue open tenders to attract suppliers from outside Kenya. Note that this will be subject to the Act Part XII Section 155(5) which requires justification of the inability to procure locally and Section 157(9) which requires foreign tenderers to source at least 30 per cent of supplies from citizen contractors,” Othieno wrote back.

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Kenya PowerJared OthienoCorruption