The fight for multibillion shillings tenders at Kenya Ports Authority is at the heart of the ongoing campaigns against the management of the parastatal led by Daniel Manduku.
Losers in lucrative tenders cancelled over irregularities have since ganged up in a vicious campaign through media outlets with the aim of bringing down the top management. The linkman in the newsrooms is former one Mwaniki Munuhe, a former journalistat the Standard Group newspapers and who was linked to National Youth Service multibillion shillings scandal where he is said to have received Sh10 million during the tenure of governor Kirinyaga Anne Waiguru who was then cabinet secretary devolution.
Already, a bitter fallout between Munuhe and journalist Kipchumba Some of Nation is brewing and the swords have been drawn. Some was given a whistleblower’s report by Munuhe who claims to be close to Transport CS James Macharia and Director of Criminal Investigations, George Kinoti.
Some was promised Sh1 million by Munuhe with a downpayment of Sh500,000 being given with a balance sorted out once the story was carried out. Word has it Munuhe has failed to honour the promise with Some openly complaining he has been conned. Another journalist on Munuhe payroll is Standard Mombasa based journalist Willis Oketch, said to be close to former procurement manager Yobes Oyaro who was moved to Kisumu from Mombasa.
Oketch wears one T-shirt and jeans from Monday to Sunday pretending to be poor when he swims in millions. Recently, our undercover team spotted Oketch at Java Nyali branch Mombasa with his KPA linkman. He was overheard saying he needed Sh500,000 on top of what he had to wire to Standard editors in Nairobi’s Mombasa Road for facilitation to have the story published. It is not known if the money that was given reached the said destination. Oketch once worked for the defunct Kenya Times as a correspondent in Kisumu.
Munuhe openly boasts to have influenced the appointment of Vincent Sidai to the position of general manager infrastructure, development due to his connections with CS Macharia. Sidai is said to have parted with millions of shillings which he gave Munuhe on the basis that the minister had requested for it, according to an ally of Sidai.
Of late, Munuhe has openly been boasting once Manduku is charged in court with other senior managers at KPA, Sidai will be appointed to act. It has since emerged that Munuhe who claims to be close to Uhuru Kenyatta’s confidante and ally, David Murathe, and run hospitality business together and a number of State House operatives including Nancy Gitau, has been receiving millions of shillings from a faction out to win a Sh1.7 billion tugboat tender at KPA that was cancelled.
A tugboat is a boat used to tow or push, vessels in harbours over the open sea. Munuhe is said to have been pushing for one of the two firms that had been shortlisted for the award of the tender although they do not meet the tender outlined specifications.
Nine bidders participated in the tender; Grandweld Shipyard from UAE, Yuexin Ocean Engineering Ltd, Aruon SA, Samwon HI, Samwon HI, Bogarici Denizalik, Med Marine and Cheoy Lee Shipyard from Hong Kong.
The company Munuhe claims was fronted by the CS Macharia is Med Marine while that being fronted by William Ruto allies is Cheoy Lee Shipyard from Hong Kong.
The tender specifications required that the bidder must have a local agent with the capacity to supply spares, and service the warranty for and on behalf of the manufacturing shipyard and the procuring entity.
Interestingly, Cheoy Lee Shipyard, indicated that they will be represented by Nanak Engineering as their local agent with technical capacity to supply spares and service the warranty on behalf of Shipyard in Hong Kong, whereas Med Marine have no local agent.
Nanak Engineering is a bodybuilding company for buses and has nothing to do with marine industry neither do they have a shipyard. On the other hand, Med Marine did not nominate any local shipyard to represent them in that capacity which was a mandatory requirement and therefore confirming both bids did not qualify.
The tender committee was chaired by a one Eng Tai. Musa Mbugua a former member of YK92 operative who enjoys patronage from a powerful politician is fronting Cheoy Lee Shipyard that already supplied another tugboat to the port under similar tactics of imposing their own committee to ensure they secured the tenders.
During the technical and financial evaluation of the tenders other bidders were cannibalised and knocked out in a manner to confirm the tender committee favoured Cheoy Lee Shipyard. KPA regulations and as per the public procurement and disposal Act 2005 procedures, required that bidders shortlisted for the tender must be subjected to due diligence inspection to ascertain their capacity, quality of reference there after open the financial offer to award points then determine the lowest evaluated most responsive bid. This was never done in the case of the tugboat tender forcing it to be cancelled.
So far other bidders have not been informed that the technical evaluation process was completed nor letters of regret, or reasons as to why their bids failed. However, the financial offers of the two were opened and it turned out Lee Shipyard lost on price. Med Marine quoted billion US$ 15.2 million and Cheoy Lee US$ 16.2 million.
Med Marine fronted by Munuhe is said to have indicated the price of the boat is at US$15.2 million, but the spare parts and maintenance costs were not included on the boat price which means if added their cost will be more expensive than that offered by Cheoy Lee Shipyard.
This has set the two companies in a fierce fight with Mbugua at one time blaming Munuhe for dropping Macharia’s name. Talking to Weekly Citizen, Mbugua revealed, Munuhe is using his closeness with Macharia and Gitau to manipulate parastatal bosses that fall under Transport ministry. Another tender is Pilot boat Tender KPA 066/2018-2019/Me valued at US$ 6 million.
Infighting also played out during the Sh600 million tender for the supply of a pilot boat with Manduku refusing to sign the award.
The same evaluation committee awarded the tender to Cheoy Lee Shipyard to build the pilot boat.
The pilot boat tender exceeded the tender validity period, as the KPA MD refused to accept the award of the tender to Cheoy Lee Shipyard which was the only bidder that qualified during technically evaluation under unclear circumstances.
Strangely the tender committee was funded to visit Hong Kong to do due diligence to confirm the ability of Cheoy Lee Shipyard to manufacture pilot boats yet KPA was recently supplied its latest tug boat christened MV Eugene at a Cost Sh1.2 billion making it unnecessary to carry out another due diligence for a small pilot boat.
Munuhe has been boasting to be the force behind the failure to gazette Manduku as KPA MD more than seven months after he was confirmed to the position.
It is not clear why Manduku’s appointment has not been gazetted yet this is mandatory for heads of state corporations.
Transport, Infrastructure, Housing, Urban Development and Public Works CS Macharia appointed Manduku in December last year.
The cancelled tenders at KPA that has seen the cartel fight back amount to nearly Sh20 billion and include a Sh7 billion KPA headquarters renovation, Sh3 billion terminal operating system, Sh3 billion land purchase at ICDN, Sh2 billion dredging tender, Sh2 billion port equipment tender and Sh1.7 billion tugboat supply tender and Sh800 million pilot boat. It has emerged, a firm Aaki Associates with a powerful individual in corridors of power was fronted by Munuhe to win the lucrative Sh7 billion headquarter tender.
The brokers and cartels some of whom are said to be senior government officials have vowed to cause management changes at the port unless they have their way.
Surprisingly, the name of Maritime PS Nancy Karigithu features prominently among senior government officials fighting Manduku and his team at the port.
Before her appointment as PS, Karigithu who was formerly director-general of Mombasa based Kenya Maritime Authority had lobbied to be appointed KPA MD.
And in the last port interviews that saw Manduku picked, Karigithu had fronted for Stanley Chai with whom they had worked at KMA. In 2016, Macharia was forced to remove maritime affairs docket from Karigithu over complaints of interference in KMA tenders.
Karigithu has reportedly been using one Joseph Okakho, a former acting head of ethics and integrity at KPA and a close associate of her’s to make claims against top port leadership.
Okakho who began his career at KPA as a records clerk in the legal department was bitter after he was transferred to Kisumu port in changes a few months ago.
Karigithu has since helped Okakho to be appointed the human resources manager at the recently launched Bandari Maritime Academy.
And even though purporting to fight corruption at the port, Okakho’s background at the ethics department he served at KPA shows that he has been under investigations by anti-corruption detectives for abuse of office and corruption.
Okakho is said to have used his own private company known as Ethics Institute of East Africa where he is the CEO to organise for training of KPA employees at Ole Sereni Hotel, Nairobi under course name Ethics at Workplace.
He signed the membership certificates as the CEO. He used millions meant to run the KPA ethics department to facilitate training without authorisation.
EACC was alerted and instituted investigations and the allegations were confirmed that the accused had abused public office, misappropriated public finance and conflict of interest since he was working in ethics department and his company is the one that was single sourced to do the training.
The investigations file was forwarded to the DPP but was returned to investigators because Okakho’s co-director in Ethics Institute of East Africa Rose Makokha had not recorded statement.
After the file landed back to investigators, it claimed money promptly exchanged hands and the matter fizzled out never to be heard again.
Back to KPA tenders and the fightback by cartels, it has emerged those fighting the current management are also keen to link Manduku to the controversial Kipevu Oil Terminal whose cost is said to have been inflated from an initial Sh12billion to Sh40 billion.
The project was launched in 2015 during the tenure of former MD Gichiri Ndua who was unceremoniously kicked out the following year together with four other top managers over dirty procurement deals.
Last week, KPA’s corporate affairs department issued a statement denouncing damaging media reports targeting the parastatal.
“Our attention has been drawn to adverse media reports propagated by some outlets relating to ongoing investigations at Kenya Ports Authority. As a public entity, we are subject to audits and investigations,” the statement said.
The statement further said the ongoing investigation by relevant arms of government is an important exercise that is poised to review adherence to laid down processes to ensure the management continues to uphold fairness, honesty and transparency.
But the port management regretted that there was a calculated effort by some hidden forces towards a pre-determined cause by invoking speculations in the court of public opinion.
“Indeed, we are aware of vast interest created by the type of projects we undertake. The procedure and outcomes of procurement process have in the past elicited varied reactions. In the recent past, we have cancelled up to eight high profile tenders,” said KPA corporate affairs department.
The statement added: “We are cognisant of the fact that the competing interests around the procurement have in the past not been in agreement with our decisions. The need for mutual accountability and professionalism is at the heart of our mutual ventures with our partners.”
The statement said the positive impact of the measures KPA has undertaken was clear as seen in the light of increased efficiency in cargo handling which has translated to higher revenues and profitability.
“It is therefore, in the interest of all, that the investigators are left to do their job independently with the appropriate vigor to enable the public to get accurate information”, the statement concluded.