State House was aware of multi-billion price variations in the controversy-ridden Sh63 billion medical equipment leasing deal for counties, Senators heard yesterday.
Council of Governors (CoG) chairman, Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega) told the Senate ad hoc committee probing the Managed Equipment Service (MES) that the county bosses protested to President Uhuru Kenyatta about the price variations.
Governor Oparanya told the Senate team that during a meeting between governors and the president, they questioned why each county had been asked to pay Sh200 million annually up from Sh95 million for the leased equipment.
According to Oparanya, Uhuru promised to instruct Health CS to form taskforce to investigate issues raised by the governors.
“The president said he will form a committee to investigate MES. CS Health was given the mandate to form the team. But we asked ourselves how can the ministry we are questioning investigate itself?” said Oparanya.
Oparanya further revealed that despite numerous follow ups with the Health ministry to find out whether the taskforce had been formed or when it was going to be formed, no answers have been forthcoming.
Oparanya told the committee that the procurement of the equipment on behalf of the counties was not done according to the law.
“Governors made it clear in different council meetings that counties never requested for the MES project,” he said.
Revealing the contents of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the leasing scheme for the first time, Oparanya said some governors signed the document under duress.
“We signed it under duress because the pressure was too much. When I signed it, I didn’t even want to read it because the equipment were already there, they were delivered on a Saturday at night,” he said.
The MoU, seen by The Standard, barred any variations, additions, deletions or cancellations of any clauses unless in writing and signed by the parties involved.
Senator Moses Wetangula (Bungoma) sought to know why the governors went ahead to sign the MoU before studying it. He expressed fear that the entire deal may have been fraudulent.
Doing business with counties
“What is before us is a general feeling supported by fact that somebody or some people sitting at the Ministry of Health headquarters connived to do business using counties as the conduit,” said Wetangula.
Oparanya told the committee that procurement in the project was not done according to county needs citing an example of Turkana County that received a CT scan machine even though it already had one.
Other counties that Oparanya said already had some equipment but took in more under the MESwere Laikipia County (x-ray and theatre equipment) and Embu County (dialysis machines and a water treatment plant).