The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) has termed accusations that it had altered tender guidelines for a multi-billion Japanese-funded Kenya special economic zone (SEZ) works at Mombasa port with a view to rigging it in favour of some bidders as “baseless.”
KPA acting Managing Director John Mwangemi, in response to The Standard queries on Wednesday said the Sh39 billion project’s procurement plan had been above board and was approved by the Japanese Agency Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
“This is an important project for our country and everything is being done above board,” said Mr Mwangemi.
“Any aggrieved parties should follow the right channels for redress. We have done everything above board.”
Some bidders have alleged KPA has moved to amend the terms of eligibility for the project for the special economic zone (Dongo Kundu) in Mombasa in an alleged bid to rig the project in favour of an unspecified firm.
They alleged a plot to increase the tender period from the current five years to between 10 and 15 years to suit a particular company.
Change of criteria
In a letter dated December 7, 2022, and addressed to Jica Kenya Chief Representative Iwama Hajime, Mr Mwangemi had requested backing for the change of criteria.
In an interview with The Standard, Mr Mwangemi however rejected the claims.
Sources at JICA told The Standard they would not be dragged into the unverified claims.
Japan is looking to boost its investment in Africa, much as its rival China has been doing for years.
The project which is set to be completed by 2026 will include the creation of a free trade zone, a free port, a logistics hub, and a mega industrial zone.
Tender details show the contractor is expected to dredge a special berth, clear the site, build facilities, including the administration building, and set up a security system and information and communication technology hub.
The tender involves the construction of a free trade zone, port, logistics hub and industrial zone. Firms eyeing to use Mombasa Port would be allocated space to set up depots.
Dredging of the berth will include widening and reclaiming of land for the project.
Once the economic zone is completed, it will have the capacity to employ 27,000 people in various businesses, especially in manufacturing, the government has said.
Mombasa port is the gateway for landlocked countries such as Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.