A Sh21 billion tender by Kenya Power (Kenya Power and Lighting Company or KPLC) for the supply of meters hangs in the balance after the procurement oversight authority began investigating claims of corruption.
The Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) has written to KPLC Managing Director Joseph Siror demanding an explanation on how the multi-billion shillings tender was awarded following complaints by a businessman that the process was muddled with fraud and collusion.
"We are demanding an explanation and demonstration of how KPLC complied with the principles of fairness and non-discrimination of bidders participating in the subject tender and the current status of the procurement proceeding," said PPRA in the letter signed by Director-General Patrick Wanjuki.
PPRA demanded the power firm supply it with documents relating to the approved requisition for the subject procurement, the black tender document issued to bidders, tender notice advertisement, the appointment of tender committee members and minutes of the tender committee.
The oversight body also wants to be supplied with the tender evaluation committee's report, due diligence report, professional opinion issued by the head of procurement, notification of intention to issue the tender award and contract agreement with the companies awarded the contract.
Wanjuki also noted that the review board has discovered that KPLC has not uploaded and made public the tender award notice as required under procurement laws.
"You are directed to comply with the requirement to make public the tender award and inform the authority in addition to supplying all the required documents not later than May 30 2023," said Wanjuki.
PPRA made the move after businessman Benedict Kabugi Ndung'u raised the red flag claiming that the tender process was flawed after Kenya Power senior managers colluded with some companies to change tender specifications at the last minute to lock out some bidders.
According to Ndung'u, the tender documents issued to interested bidders after the advertisement in February stated that the eligibility criteria were only for local manufacturing firms.
He however complained that the criteria were changed to include local meter assemblers and not manufacturers through six addenda, a fact which he says substantially changed the original tender document and the eligibility criteria.
"The tender specifications were substantially, unlawfully and irregularly changed at the last minute by Kenya Power in an attempt to custom make the tender for few preferred bidders who were in collusion with senior KPLC staff," he claimed.
He added that the awarded amounts surpassed the allocated budget and the excess amounts were never approved by the board and neither was the procurement plan amended to accommodate the excess amounts which is a breach of Section 53(2 & 8) of the Act.
The companies KPLC awarded the tenders are Inhemeter Africa Company Ltd for Sh5.46 billion, Smart Meter Technology Ltd for Sh4.7 billion, Yocean Group Ltd for Sh5.48 billion and Magnate Vendors Ltd for Sh5.4 billion.