Graft purge at export agency gathers pace

Industrialisation Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya. The CS is on a clean-up mission of the agencies under his docket, including EPZA. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

The Export Processing Zones Authority has started replacing some of the officials kicked out of office because of graft allegations.

The three officials are set to meet officials from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Authority (EACC) in connection with the Sh1.2 billion procurement scam that cost them their jobs. 

The position of head of recruitment, which has been vacant for an extended period of time, has been advertised.

The other positions, sources said yesterday, would soon be advertised once disciplinary proceedings against the individuals were completed.

Victims of the latest purge being spearheaded by the new Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA) board headed by lawyer Paul Gicheru include the corporation secretary, Maria Ouya, the general manager for commercial and technical services, Tom Soigwa, and his finance and administration colleague, Benta Omollo.

The Public Procurement Regulatory Authority is investigating EPZA over a fraudulent tender in which several firms were paid for work not done.

Other accusations against the three include significantly varying prices of projects, thus denying the State cash.

“The variations were ostensibly authorised by the CEO and paid by the general manager finance and administration in spite of the glaring irregularities without approval by the board,” read a report by the board.

The report noted that in some instances, the variations were made when between 90 per cent and 97 per cent of the contract sums had been paid for the works. Water meant for the firm was also sold to outsiders at the expense of manufactures.

“This was due to illegal connections,” said a source who declined to be named for fear of reprisal.

Former CEO Fanuel Kidenda, who is mentioned adversely in a board report seen by The Standard, was sent packing by Industrialisation Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya.

The former East African Community CS, who swapped places with Adan Mohamed, has been on a cleaning up mission of agencies under the ministry. 

Last week, Mr Munya visited the scandal-hit Kenanie Leather Park in Athi River, which broke ground two years ago. Investments valued at Sh500 million were said to have been swept away by a downpour last year. The investments included walls, road grading and sewerage lines.

The park, still under construction, was said to have been built on swampy ground, inviting the ire of the CS.

“Who carried out the assessment of the suitability of the land? I am told the entire project has been swept away by the rains apparently because the land is a swamp,” said Munya in an internal memo addressed to Principal Secretary Betty Maina. Munya’s visit also took him to a new macadamia factory, Tensenses, which already has 600 employees with 30,000 farmers supplying it with the nuts. The new factory has a target of reaching 160,000 farmers.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has staked his hopes for the Big Four agenda on the export processing zones such as Kenanie Leather Park. The park is expected to revolutionalise the leather value chain, creating a new market for skins and hides, which are usually processed into blue leather and exported as raw materials. Firms in the park will enjoy tax incentives and other amenities such as land, water and electricity.

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