Top managers at Kenya Rural Roads Authority are engaged in vicious wars.
The wars are as a result of deals gone sour in a multi-million contract brokerage in road construction.
Insiders at KeRRA are accusing the head of procurement Margaret Muthui for demanding too much in tender awards kickbacks. It is said that at one time the powerful MM as the procurement head is referred to was on a forced leave on matters relating to discipline.
Her return to the plum procurement office has left many wondering loudly. However, it is claimed, using millions she has accumulated at KeRRA, she bribed her way back to office compromising a section on KeRRA board.
Weekly Citizen has information MM made a fortune at KeRRA during the reign of John Ogango as director general. Ogango was appointed an ambassador but declined due to what insiders say he saw as demotion.
To mint millions from contractors, the cartel at KeRRA head office colludes with regional directors based in counties.
When tenders are advertised, well known firms are always awarded. New ones are locked out on grounds they cannot prove ownership equipment of current lease agreement of such equipment. Proof of previous experience is also a headache.
Of late, the cartel has discovered easy ways of making money at KeRRA. They have facilitated their allies to register firms and tender under youth women (YW) and people with disabilities (PWD). The said firms are then given contracts across the country with payments fast tracked.
For starters, KeRRA’s role is development, rehabilitation, maintenance and management of rural roads in the country.
In Samburu region, BM Maara is in charge and JN Kibiru is in Laikipia region.
The cartel and KeRRa headquarters located at Blue Shield House have networks across the regions and influence who gets what contract. They target mostly Chinese firms and those operated by Asians and Somali contractors.
One Chinese firm that is favoured is Chinese Overseas Construction and Engineering.
Sources say in Nairobi, Muthui had a hand in the award of tenders to construct 21.2 kilometres roads at a cost of Sh164 million. The 17 sub-counties in Nairobi according to our source were allocated not less than Sh9.6m by KeRRA. The cartel are said to have targeted at least Sh1.5 million from each of the 17 subcounties in Nairobi totaling to a cool Sh25.5 million.
With contractors parting with kickbacks before tender awards. Many have decided to do shoddy jobs in order to make a profit.
Kenyans will agree, majority of roads undertaken by KeRRA are poorly done.
With KeRRA having no substantive director general, engineers are said to be lobbying using politicians to land the lucrative position to mint millions in kickbacks. r Luka Kimeli is the acting director general. He has held the slot for almost a year and many question why the position has not been advertised and filled.
That KeRRA is involved in underground deals in tender awards is well seen in the controversy for tarmacking Sh3.2 billion Mandera- Fino road.
The contractor who enjoys links at KeRRA is said after parting millions to land the lucrative tender decided to divert Sh244 million advance payment to other projects.
The firm had applied for release of further funds when the project had stalled in what it claimed to be as a result of insecurity.
Documents show Sh2.4 billion was to be spent on upgrading of the road to bitumen while Sh772 million was for maintenance.
County Builders Limited director is Abdhullahi Khalif who cuts deals with procurement department.
A source at KeRRA asked Weekly Citizen to question why advance cash was released by the authority immediately it received a guarantee from Credit Bank of politician Simeon Nyachae family. It is instructive to note, KeRRa did not notify other bidders of the tender award.
The award was surrounded by mystery and during the bidding process, the contract had been awarded.
A source within KeRRA revealed the tender concerning County Builders Limited for Mandera-Fino road in Mandera county caused ripples at the parastatal and investigations were instituted. The board was eventually to learn, millions exchanged hands within the contractor, Mandera regional KeRRA office and procurement finance offices in Nairobi.
The tender award landed in court with County Builders Ltd, KeRRA and Public Procurement Oversight Authority being sued.
Another project that has haunted KeRRA is the Sh1 billion Sigiri bridge in Busia county. Initially it was to cost Sh685 million.
The award letter according to our source was issued to Engineering Ground Company Ltd. The contract sum being Sh685 million. However, the cartel at KeRRA inflated the project to Sh900 million.
It is the Sigiri bridge project that has seen bad flow between a number of managers at KeRRA. It is said, the Chinese contractor parted with a cool Sh100 million that was to be shared by those involved. However one of them disappeared with the entire loot.
After parting with millions, the Chinese contractor decided to do shoddy job and immediately Uhuru Kenyatta officially opened it, it tumbled down.
It is said the Chinese firm had compromised government inspectors. Our source revealed a report in the probe of the Sigiri bridge implicated the cartels but surprisingly they have not been disciplined.
Talk is rife, infrastructure permanent secretary was compromised by the Chinese firm and cartel at KeRRA.
“What happened at Sigiri bridge embarrassed Uhuru,” our source asked.