Storm at Tana River County over Sh160m medical cover

Tana River Governor Dhadho Godhana during a past appearance before the Senate County Public Accounts and Investment Committee over audit queries. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

A storm is brewing at the county government of Tana River after a whistleblower raised the alarm over an alleged illegal award of a multi-million shillings tender for the provision of medical insurance.

In a letter to the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA), the whistleblower has detailed how some powerful officials have colluded to illegally arm-twist the tendering process where the lowest bidder has been denied and the contract awarded to a company that did not qualify.

As a result of the interference, the chairman of the county government tender committee has resigned to avoid being dragged into the alleged corruption and misappropriation of public funds.

“It is an open corruption where the tender evaluation committee was ordered to alter the evaluation report and ensure Minet Insurance Brokers, who won the tender, are kicked out by all means including tampering with their documents,” said the whistleblower.

The dispute started when the county government advertised a tender for the provision of medical insurance for its staff at a cost of Sh160,939,884.

On May 17, a tender evaluation committee was appointed to review the seven submitted bids out of which three bidders, Jubilee Health Insurance Limited, Scoreline Insurance Brokers, and Minet Kenya Insurance Ltd passed the technical stage and qualified for the final financial stage.

Jubilee Health Insurance bid Sh187 million, Scoreline Insurance Brokers Sh162 million, and Minet Kenya Insurance Ltd Sh137 million against the budgeted amount of Sh160 million.

“Following the evaluation at the financial stage, the committee resolved to be guided by the public procurement rules in which the lowest bidder, Minet Kenya Insurance Ltd, was recommended for the contract,” said the whistleblower.

The committee’s decision to award the contract to Minet Kenya Insurance Ltd ruffled some powerful officials within the county government who allegedly ordered that the evaluation process be altered in favour of another bidder.

Due to the alleged interference and push to deny the lowest bidder, the tender committee chairman Ezekiel Mchawala Faraja, on May 23, wrote a resignation letter over fears of being accused of corruption.

In the letter seen by The Standard and addressed to the county accounting officer in the department of public service management, Mr Faraja said his conscience would not allow him to commit any act that contravenes procurement laws.

“Allowing the illegality to take place will make me go against the provisions on integrity and as such, I wish to tender my resignation as chairman of the tender evaluation committee,” said Faraja.

When contacted, Faraja confirmed he had resigned for personal reasons.

According to the whistleblower who stated he is an employee of the county government, the county government is at risk of losing Sh24.5 million should the contract be denied to the lowest bidder.