Parliamentary Service Commission headed by house speaker Justin Muturi is on the spot for awarding a Sh700 million tender to a phantom firm.
The tender for furnishing MPs’ offices was awarded to Nightingale Enterprises Limited whose directors are listed as Ephantus Githui Gathekia and Peter Njoroge Muchuku.
According to sources, Ephantus Githui Gathekia died in May 2017 while Peter Njoroge Muchuku lives in North Carolina, USA and rarely comes to Kenya.
Already, a Chinese firm is locked up in a tendering dispute with the PSC over the Sh700 million deal to furnish MPs’ offices amid allegations that the winning bidder forged documents.
China Jiangxi International Kenya has petitioned the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board to block the award of the tender to Nightingale Enterprises Ltd citing a breach of standing laws.
The local firm is alleged to have submitted irregular bank statements, provided referee companies that were related to it, quoted works it never performed and listed an architecture firm not registered in Kenya, documents filed before the review board shows.
The Chinese firm reckons the PSC did not do adequate background check on Nightingale Enterprises as demanded by law.
Nightingale Enterprises had bid for Sh665.1 million while China Jiangxi’s offer was Sh699.6 million for the interior fitting of the 26-storey building, which is being built by the Chinese firm for Sh6 billion.
“The procuring entity be compelled to conduct a proper due diligence on Nightingale Enterprises strictly in accordance with the criteria set out in the tender,” the lawyer added.
The PSC has, however, denied the tender did not meet the set criteria including authentic bank details, adding that the Chinese firm has misunderstood the procurement procedure.
The commission says China Jiangxi took part in the tender but was unsuccessful because it submitted a higher bid compared with Nightingale Enterprises.
Separate documents, filed by a whistleblower through lawyer Munyalo Muli before the board, questioned the authenticity of the bank statements provided by Nightingale Enterprises, adding that the firm did not undertake a multi-billions contracts in Zambia it quoted to show its competence.
The firm is also said to have quoted independent referees that were related to it.
“A search at e-Citizen platform reveals that those companies share the same postal address as Nightingale Enterprises and therefore could not credibly verify the worthiness of the alleged successful bidder,” said Muli.
The lawyer also said Nightingale lined up an architectural firm – OctaArchitects — that does not appear among firms licensed to operate in Kenya by the Board of Registration of Architects and Quantity Surveyors.
The 26-storey office block is expected to accommodate MPs who have no offices and the expanded number of staff.
The PSC is spending millions of shillings to hire offices for MPs and senators who did not secure space at parliament buildings.
“The pendency of the ruling notwithstanding, our client’s case is that the procurement process that led to the prequalification of Nightingale Enterprises was undertaken without proper due diligence on the part of the Tender Evaluation Committee and was inter-alia riddled and rife with irregularities, illegalities, malpractices and manifest fraud.
“Our client wishes to now draw your kind attention to the following pertinent issues that were deliberately overlooked while considering Nightingale Enterprises for prequalification,” the document states.
Nightingale Enterprises is said to have been registered fraudulently to take advantage of tender awards. It shares postal address with four other companies namely: Bliss Park Apartments Limited, Haven Park Limited, Lulu Gardens Limited and Glee Hotel Limited, which it indicates are its referees.
Nightingale had also said that it would associate with Octa Architects Limited to undertake the design works yet, a search at the Board of Registration of Architects and Quantity Surveyors Kenya yielded nil results.
Nightingale also supplied forged and unauthentic bank statements from Equity Bank.
This was discovered by PSC when they asked Equity Bank to provide certified statements. Equity Bank refused or was unable to provide ‘as the availed copies did not originate from the bank’.
This is not the first time Nightingale is featuring in corruption allegations. In another deal involving Kenya Rural Roads Authority and Nightingale, the company was awarded a tender that entailed rehabilitation and maintenance of Masinga-Wendano Road.
The value of the works was not indicated on the certificate of completion, but it is thought to have been in the tune of hundreds of millions.
According to documents in our possession, the works on the road were completed on November 22 2015. This means that Nightingale was awarded a tender by the road authority while still undertaking another one by KeRRA.
The completion certificate was not signed by any officer, despite having been stamped as received by Nightingale.
It is not yet clear whether the two projects were done or were just ghost projects meant to swindle taxpayers.
In 2017, the company indicated that it made a Sh337,293,727 profit before tax as compared to Sh273, 439,409. Such profits are not synonymous with most stationary and digital printing companies.
Apart from Muturi, other members on parliamentary service commission are Naomi Shaban, Adan Keynan, Aisha Juma, Benson Momanyi, George Khaniri, Beth Mugo, Aaron Cheruiyot, Lorna Mumel and clerk of the senate JN Nyegenye.