Petitioner faults Wetang'ula, Kingi, for shelving SGR dossier

By Brian Otieno | Feb 21, 2024
Speaker of the National Assembly Moses Wetangula and Speaker of the Senate Amason Kingi. (File, Standard)

A Kenyan seeking to have Parliament investigate the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) has questioned why the bicameral House has shelved a petition he filed.

In a letter to Speakers Moses Wetang’ula (National Assembly) and Amason Kingi (Senate), certified fraud examiner Bernard Muchere wonders why a petition he filed in June last year was yet to be tabled in both Houses.

Muchere, who served as an internal auditor at the National Treasury for 40 years and who unearthed mega corruption scandals in the previous government, argues that the move is a violation of his constitutional rights.

In the June 2023 petition, the anti-fraud expert said he had conducted a fraud examination on the SGR and discovered that more than Sh1.2 trillion was allegedly stolen in the project.

“Despite the timeline of seven days upon receipt of the petition for handling public petitions as provided under standing orders 220(3)&(4) and 225 (3)&(4) of the National Assembly and the Senate respectively, eight months down the line my petition appears to have been shelved,” Muchere’s letter reads in part.

“Was my petition shelved for reasons that China Road and Bridges Corporation is Considered by Parliament and Kenya’s Executive as a Sovereign Corporation?”

He cites an unsigned 2014 note from the Chinese Embassy to the Kenyan Foreign Affairs Ministry that warned against the questioning of the general manager of China Road and Bridges Corporation (CRBC), the firm that undertook the SGR project, by a National Assembly committee.

Muchere says that the Chinese Embassy had warned that “questioning the manager is tantamount to questioning the government of China.”

“On the same note, the PS/ MFA vide letter Ref No. MFA. REL. 13/38 dated February 5, 2014 warned the committee that questioning the manager would have serious and irrevocable negative consequences for Kenya’s national interests and relations with China,” adds the auditor, who faults the move as misleading and “an attempt to conceal the Sh1.2 trillion SGR fraud.”

Muchere claims that the CRBC was registered in Kenya as a company in 1984, further stating that State corporations were not exempted from investigations, citing a World Bank investigation of CRBC that saw it debarred from World Bank-financed contracts between 2009 and 2017.

“I am constrained to believe that shelving of my petition has nothing to do with these warnings from the Chinese big brothers. China Road and Bridges Corporation conceptualized the development of an Electric Train from Mombasa to Nairobi and offered to Finance the Construction. Did the Kenyan Executive and Parliament unpatriotically take over financing of SGR from CRBC, thus, burdening Kenyan taxpayers and downgrading the electric train to the Standard Gauge Railway?” He poses.

The petitioner accuses the Kenyan government of allegedly turning down a CRBC offer to develop an electric railway system using its own resources and opting, instead, for a downgrade to be funded through borrowing worth approximately $4.13 billion (Sh596.8 billion by current exchange rates).

And he further notes an inflation of the SGR cost from a project cost of Sh474 billion to Sh1.2 trillion through grants the National Treasury to the Kenya Railway Corporation.

“In the course of development of the SGR between 2013/2014 and 2019/2020, the same Financial Secretary (National Treasury) issued SGR GOK (Government of Kenya) grants from Kenyans tax revenues to Kenya Railway Corporation aggregating to approximately Sh695 billion for payment to CRBC in Kenya and on the other hand, executed irrevocable notice of drawdown aggregating to approximately Sh539 billion for payment of CRBC in China and crediting the same amount as loan in a purported GOK account in Exim Bank of China,” Muchere wonders.

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