Chinese firm to get Sh36billion water tender

The Ministry of Water and Irrigation has now been ordered to award the controversial Sh36 billion Thwake dam tender to the China Gezhouba Group within 14 days.

Public Procurement Oversight Authority (PPOA) on Wednesday also nullified an earlier notification of award given to Sinohydro Tianjin Engineering.

PPOA reprimanded former Water and Irrigation Principal Secretary Mwangi Nduati (pictured) in particular, for acting illegally and ignoring lawful advice from the office of the Attorney General and African Development Bank, the project financier.

"It is regrettable that the accounting officer (PS Nduati) could so blatantly act so illegally on this matter. It is shocking that the ministry even decided to ignore lawful advice from the Attorney General and even the bank. You must comply with our orders within 14 days. People need to learn to respect the law and to do the right things," said board Chairman Paul Gicheru.

In an interesting turn of events, the Ministry of Water through the head of procurement George Marete disowned an award made by PS Nduati and instead swore another affidavit that was a complete departure from the PS's position.

It was the ministry's admission that both PS Nduati and the Ministerial Tender Committee he had appointed erred in their decision to ignore the report of the ministerial evaluation committee that recommended the award of the tender be made to the lowest evaluated bidder.

Sinohydro Tianjin Engineering through their lawyer Waweru Gatonye wanted the board to consider cancellation of the tender and to have it re-tendered but the request was disallowed.

Nduati has since been moved from his irrigation docket after his relations with his boss Water Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa frayed.

Wamalwa and Nduati had exchanged snappy memos.

Similar exchanges between Nduati and AfDB had put the future of the Thwake Dam project in jeopardy with the bank threatening to withdraw funding.

Wamalwa, the AfDB and Githu had strongly advised that the tender be awarded to the lowest bidder, at Sh36 billion but insisted on Sh39 billion bid — Sh3 billion higher.

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Thwake dam