A Chinese contractor pocketed Sh4 billion for a project that never took off and now wants the taxpayer to pay an additional Sh17.6 billion, yet no work was done.
The firm is demanding the amount from Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) for cancelled construction of Sh64 billion Greenfield Terminal at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
KAA yesterday told the National Assembly’s Public Investment Committee (PIC) that Anhui Constructions Engineering Group Limited had slapped them with the claim, but disclosed that the same was now being reviewed by the Ministry of Transport.
Managing Director Jonny Andersen, however, claimed that they did not expect to pay anything to the Chinese company, instead saying they had made a counter-claim for a refund of Sh4.22 billion that they had paid the contractor in advance.
Riding on the strength of the legal advice they received from the then Attorney General Githu Muigai that the contract was void, Andersen said they were opposed to any claim lodged by the contractor and instead were pushing them to channel back what had been paid before the contract was terminated in 2016.
“As the custodian of the Kenya Airports Authority, I stand by the position that the contract was illegal and I want that money paid to them back,” Andersen told the committee chaired by Mvita MP Abdullswamad Nassir.
His revelation on the claim came even as members of the committee accused Prof Muigai of flip-flopping over the matter, turning around to declare the contract as void when he was among those who had given it a thumbs-up in 2013 despite opposition from former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and KAA board.
Yesterday, KAA produced a legal opinion rendered by Muigai dated June 17, 2016, defending KAA’s decision to terminate the contract, arguing that the agreement was illegal as it did not comply with various sections of the Public Procurement and Disposal Act.
But the MPs were angry that the position taken by the former AG was in contrast to the legal opinion he gave on February 22, 2012, where he had advised the then KAA’s acting Managing Director Samuel Gichuki against terminating the procurement of the Chinese company for the work.
Meanwhile, the committee demanded that the KAA management provides them with the breakdown on how they spent Sh75 million for the ground-breaking ceremony that was presided over by President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2013.
“We need to see what was this that you did for you to spend Sh75 million on a one-day activity of ground-breaking. This figure just does not make sense,” said Nassir, as he also revealed that several former senior officers would be summoned to appear before the committee over this project.
Nassir wondered why close to Sh5 billion had already been spent on the project yet according to Auditor General Edward Ouko, there was no evidence of any work having been done.