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Hospital, cleaning firm fight over Sh60m tender

By Julius Chepkwony | April 28th 2020
Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital, Nakuru, administration block. A cleaning firm is accusing the hospital of tender irregularities. [Joseph Kipsang, Standard]

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) in Nakuru has called for investigations into a Sh60 million cleaning tender suspected to have been awarded irregularly.

In a letter to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) South Rift region office, the ODPP has requested the agency to investigate a contract awarded by the Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital and determine whether it violated public procurement regulations.

This follows a complaint by a cleaning company, Gardens and Weddings Centre Limited.

According to documents seen by The Standard, Gardens and Weddings Centre Limited wrote to the director general of the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) on November 25, 2019 citing procurement irregularities at the hospital.

Change of guard

The cleaning company claimed it was a contractor at the hospital for two years up to August 31, 2019, providing comprehensive cleaning and sanitary services that it started offering in September 2017.

The company claimed that mid-way through the contract, there was change of guard at the facility and that it started receiving demands for kickbacks from certain individuals. It further claimed that upon resisting these demands, it was threatened with termination of the contract.

The contract was eventually terminated through an advert in the national dailies dated October 3, 2018.

The company moved to court and filed a judicial review at the High Court in Nakuru against the hospital. Before the hearing, officials at the hospital asked that the company withdraws the matter, promising that the hospital would stop the anticipated procurement process.

“We agreed to the proposal and continued providing services amid threats that we would be taught a lesson,” read part of a letter by Gardens and Weddings Centre Limited to the PPRA dated September 25, 2019.

In May 2019, the hospital advertised tenders for provision of comprehensive cleaning services (Tender No NCG/MOH/PGH/T/6/2019-2021) and provision of sanitary cleaning services (Tender No NCG/MOH/PGH/T/4/2019-2021).

The hospital also advertised tender for provision of maintenance for grounds, flower beds and planting trees (NCG/MOH/PGH/T/6/2019-2020) and provision of patient attendance services (NCG/MOH/PGH/T/8/2019-2021).

Gardens and Weddings Centre Ltd bid for provision of comprehensive cleaning services, provision of sanitary cleaning services and provision of maintenance for grounds, flower beds and planting trees.

The firm says it sent its representatives to the tender opening.

On July 23, 2019 it received a copy of a regret letter indicating that it did not succeed in all of its three bids.

The company then successfully filed for a review at the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board, arguing that it was unjust to be denied three tenders despite being the lowest bidder.

The board nullified the bids and ordered the hospital to undertake a fresh evaluation. A letter awarding a tender to M/s Lima East Africa for provision of comprehensive cleaning was cancelled and set aside.

The board directed the hospital management to reconstitute a new evaluation committee to re-evaluate the bids received in Tender No NCG/MOH /PGH /T/5/2019-2021 for maintenance of grounds, flowers, hedges and planting trees and flowers, taking into consideration the board’s findings.

The procurement process, including the making of an award, was to be done within 21 days. 

Hospital’s letter

On August 28, 2019, before the conclusion of the evaluations and award as ordered by the board, the hospital is said to have written to Gardens and Weddings Centre Limited directing the firm to hand over cleaning services to the new winning bidders on August 31, 2019.

In a regret letter, the hospital informed the cleaning company that its bids were unsuccessful because, among other reasons, the firm had not been remitting NSSF contributions for its employees.

The cleaning company then launched a second complaint with the board and a determination made for the second time.

Laid down criteria

A letter of unsuccessful bids dated August 28, 2019 addressed to the cleaning company was cancelled and set aside and a re-evaluation ordered.

The firm is now accusing the hospital of disobeying the orders of the review board.

Contacted for a comment, the hospital’s medical superintendent, Joseph Mburu, said Gardens and Weddings contract ended in August 2019 and bidding advertised.

Dr Mburu said all bids were carefully evaluated using a laid down criteria before the contract was awarded to a new company.

He insisted that the hospital followed all procurement laws and accused the cleaning company of intimidation.

According to the medical superintendent, the hospital has not hired another cleaning company, but had recruited its own workers. 

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