Rotich to be grilled again in dam pay scandal

National Treasury and Planning CS Henry Rotich (right) has a word with Editors Guild chairman Churchil Otieno (centre) as Director General of Kenya National Bureau of Statistics Zachary Mwangi look aside during the media briefing of the 2019 Kenya Population and housing census. Rotich is to be grilled in connection with dam pay scandal. [Photo: Standard]

National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich has been summoned again by detectives investigating claims that kickbacks had stalled dam projects worth Sh63 billion.

It will be the second time Mr Rotich will be appearing before detectives at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) headquarters to explain his role in the construction of the Kimwarer and Arror dams in Elgeyo Marakwet County.

Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) Managing Director David Kimosop and several board members of the State corporation were on Wednesday questioned for the fourth time by the DCI. 

Rotich was expected to appear before the investigating team to issue further statements yesterday but he called to say he had prior commitments and requested to appear today.

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“We have varied the meeting with the CS as we progress with the others,” said an official who asked not to be named.

KVDA, which contracted Italian companies CMC di Ravenna and Itinera for the projects, is at the centre of investigations into allegations of payment of kickbacks to officials.

The investigation file will be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions, who can agree or disagree with police recommendations. 

Detectives, however, said that based on information they have gathered so far, they were ready to take suspects to court.

Other officials said that President Uhuru Kenyatta was on Wednesday evening briefed on the progress of the investigation and the planned Rotich interview.

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Authorised payment

Rotich is at the centre of investigations because he is accused of authorising payment of billions of shillings before construction started.

He is also accused of writing to the National Land Commission and asking the agency to deal with land allocation issues to enable KVDA resettle residents displaced by the projects.

On February 18, Rotich was asked to explain how and why he released the money without project designs and bills of quantity, among other documents.

It also emerged that there was no due diligence done on the project. The contractors told investigators that they used the Itare dam project as their due diligence base.

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A dam in South Africa was allegedly also used to kick-start the Arror and Kimwarer projects. Yesterday, a team flew to South Africa to establish if the dam existed.

KVDA officials yesterday said only Sh7.6 billion had been paid to the contractor for the project, being 15 per cent of the total contract sum.

But the DCI insists their investigations show that up to Sh21 billion has been paid. This includes Sh6.3 billion mobilisation funds, which investigators believe were used to pay kickbacks to various parties.

Among other claims, the team is investigating conspiracy to defraud.

Detectives have so far questioned close to 100 people, including Treasury Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge, contractors and suppliers of various goods and services.

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Apart from the Arror and Kimwarer projects, police are also investigating Itare Dam in Kuresoi, which they said has stalled despite Sh11.5 billion being paid to the same contractor.

The project was to be a joint venture between KVDA, CMC di Ravenna and Itinera. But police have detected anomalies in subsequent contracts that were signed to warrant payments.

“People were paid and no single project is being implemented on the ground,” said DCI George Kinoti.

Apart from boosting food security, the dams are supposed to provide clean water for hundreds of households in surrounding counties. They are also expected to inject electricity into the national grid.

Yesterday, more suppliers of various goods and services appeared before the team probing the matter. One supplier said they supplied cutlery worth Sh8 million to an office in Eldoret after being contracted by CMC di Ravenna.

According to records, a leading supermarket was paid Sh4 million for supplying pillows and bed sheets while a food and wine company based in Lavington was paid Sh15 million for supplying food and wine.

Aerial survey

Car hire services cost Sh7 million while Sh18 million was used for aerial survey services. Another company supplied food worth Sh10.2 million.

A company was paid Sh6 million to supply generators while another was paid Sh19 million for physical studies. One firm was paid Sh13 million for provision of air tickets while another got Sh6 million for generators.

A company that provided registration services was paid Sh500,000 while another one that supplied timber got Sh66,000. An aviation firm that provided a chopper for two days received Sh310,000.

The materials were dropped off in Eldoret, Kapsowar and Nairobi while others were picked up from suppliers’ offices.

The suppliers’ representatives have been going to DCI headquarters to show what services they offered and why they were paid.

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National TreasuryHenry RotichSh63 billionDirectorate of Criminal InvestigationsKVDADavid KimosopGrilledDam scandal