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Did military hoodwink Kibaki?

By | August 4th 2011

By Steve Mkawale

The Department of Defence and a construction firm may have hoodwinked President Kibaki to open an incomplete building at the Kenya Military Academy, Lanet in June.

Members of the Parliamentary Defence and Foreign Affairs committee heard Thursday that the president opened phase one of the academy, which had no completion certificate.

It also emerged that N.K Brothers, the construction firm awarded the tender, had been black listed, therefore not legible to be awarded the tender.

Committee chairman Mr Aden Keynan said according to a report of a Public Accounts Committee N.K Brothers had been blacked listed, an issue the director of the company strongly protested.

Mr Pravin Khoda, the firm’s director, said they had never been black listed.

Khoda told the committee that their client - DOD, was in a hurry to have the building commissioned before completion.

"We listen to what our client tells us. They wanted the building commissioned and we had no choice," said Khoda when he appeared before the committee at Continental House Thursday following summons from the committee.

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The Keynan committee has been investigating contracts awarded by the Department of Defence and other issues related to promotion of senior military officers.

The team visited Nanyuki Airbase and the Military Academy in Lanet before summoning directors of various firms that were awarded different tenders to explain certain issues.

Members of the committee took Khoda to task over how he managed to get a second contract worth over Sh1billion in DOD yet there were queries raised in the first phase of the Kenya Military Academy.

"The consultants in their report alerted DOD that you were barely meeting your monthly targets and even went ahead to warn that you should not be awarded the second phase of the project?" posed Keynan.

But Khoda who was accompanied by his operations manager Mr Samuel Mwaniki and the project coordinator Mr Manji Patel said he was not aware of the consultants’ report.

The company is supposed to hand over the first phase of the project on August 7 but President Kibaki commissioned it as a complete project in June 28.

Saboti MP Eugene Wamalwa wondered why the construction firm indicated on the plaque that the building was complete yet they knew very well that it was still under construction.

"If you look at the plaque it states clearly that the building was officially commissioned by the president on June 28 after its successful completion. Do you mean the president was misled?' asked Wamalwa.

Rangwe MP Martin Ogindo asked if the hurry in having the president commission the incomplete project had anything to do with the exit of the former Chief of General Staff, the end of the financial year or the tendering of phase II of the project.

Mwaniki denied that those factors influenced the move but admitted they were under pressure to speed up the job for the official opening.

He also admitted that the company had won six Government contracts worth about Sh4billion but they were not all under the Department of Defence.

It also emerged that N.K Brothers had been excluded in the second Phase of the Kenya Military Academy but the recommendations of the technical committee and consultants was reversed by senior officers at DOD who ordered for the tender to be issued afresh.

Mr Kiboro Mwaura, the director of Donwood construction, who had been declared the winner of the first round of tendering, said he was bitter when the situation was reversed.

"I am still bitter with the decision because I had clearly won the tender and I was the lowest bidder in the first round. I tried to protest but my protest was ignored by DOD the Public Procurement Board," he told the committee.

Mwaura told the committee that after re-tendering, six other companies including N.K Brothers were included.

"N.K Brothers won the second round and their quotation was slightly lower than ours," said Mwaura adding that he had no idea why the re-tendering was ordered.

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