A silent war pitting an Indian company and sub-contractors is threatening implementation of the Sh6.7 billion Malindi solar plant, a key project that is aimed at ensuring sustainable electricity supply to the Coast region.
The project, which is owned by Malindi Solar Group, a company created ad hoc by Globeleq, seeks to construct photovoltaic power plant expected to generate 52MW of clean energy to be fed to the national grid.
The consortium has contracted Sterling & Wilson, an Indian firm, as the main contractor to implement the project, which once completed, will provide energy in Malindi, which currently has to contend with erratic supply.
But firms sub contracted to execute the works are now accusing the Indian firm of exploitation, claiming that most of them have not been paid for the work done. This even as they accuse the company of asking them to sign contracts that are complicated, confusing and “hard to understand” with so many stringent rules.
Mr Charles Waweru, a local vendor who supplied materials and machineries to one of the local sub-contractors told the Nation that most sub-contractors are apprehensive that they could be crippled financially after they learnt that the Indian firm could close shop and exit the country before they meet their financial obligations
“We have not been paid even though we have executed the works and completed the works as detailed in our agreements,” Mr Waweru said, even as he pleaded with the Ministry of Energy to intervene and ensure they are paid.
“Local firms have met their part of the bargain but they have not been paid. We need the Ministry of Energy to intervene,” he said in the interview.
However, Mr Mohamed Rehan Akhtar, the project director at Sterling & Wilson Solar Ltd, denied claims that the firm has refused to pay those it sub contracts.
“We have met all our financial obligations especially to those firms we have engaged, any claims to the contrary are untrue,” he told the Nation.
Ho, however, said he could not speak for local vendors who have been engaged by sub-contractors saying that was beyond his knowledge. “If there is anybody out there claiming that we have not paid let him produce evidence and show you,” said Mr Akhtar.
But Mr Waweru rejected the claim arguing that Mr Akhtar had closed accounts of some of the sub-contractors without mutual discussion and agreement as laid out in the contracts.
One of the issues that the sub-contractors are raising for example is that the scope of works they signed for on paper are totally different from what they are expected to implement on the ground, making them endure many unforeseen costs that have eaten into their overheads.
In some cases, the contractor has unilaterally extended most contracts for up to 12 months without the concurrence of sub contracted firms, subjecting them to further losses as they are not paid for the extended time.