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Firm inflated items in Sh48m Kemsa tender

By Grace Ng’ang’a | February 17th 2021
James Ndungu (centre) Director at Set Life Medical Solutions with his lawyers when he appeared before the Public Investments Committee on the Special Audit Report on Utilization of Covid-19 Funds at Parliament Buildings, Nairobi, on February 16, 2021. [Elvis Ogin,Standard]

Revelations of how Set Life Medical Solution supplied more than triple the required Covid-19 essentials has exposed the extent to which tenders were issued by Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (Kemsa) in disregard to procurement processes.

Appearing before the Public Investments Committee (PIC) probing Kemsa, in Nairobi, yesterday, the firm’s Director James Ndung’u had a hard time explaining how the number of non-pharmaceuticals supplies was increased without following due process.

The company initially had a contract with Kemsa for supplies worth Sh440,000, but ended up supplying goods worth Sh48 million after the outbreak of the pandemic in the country, without being awarded a tender or contractual agreement.

Mr Ndung’u told the committee that in the initial two-year contract with Kemsa, signed on March 18, 2019, and which was to lapse next month, the company was to supply 294 pairs of boots.

Skipping others

He explained that the contract quoted 294 pairs with a minimum of 1,000 pairs following a successful bid. However, last year the company ended up supplying 335,000 pairs of boots to Kemsa without signing a new contract or being awarded a new tender.

The committee chaired by Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir wondered how the company made the huge supply without reapplying for a new tender and skipping others in the queue, who had possibly filed for the same.

“They increased with close to six times. In the interest of fairness to other suppliers, I fail to understand how they still choose you to supply despite them knowing the scale you had already,” posed Mr Nassir.

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But Ndung’u argued that this was due to “a call down from the existing framework between us.”

“I did a request and they accepted it, therefore we went forward with supplying the goods,” he said.

But Nassir said: “Kemsa writing back to you and allowing you to increase the quantity without following due process was an illegality.”

Others grilled by the committee were Petrel Agencies Limited Director James Mutema and Managing Director Lucy Mutema, who supplied goods worth Sh124 million without following due process.

The MD told the committee she knew of the tender after a “routine” visit to Kemsa, where she was informed about it by the security and receptionist before she asked to see the suspended Kemsa procurement manager Charles Juma's office for more details on the items that were being sourced.

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