Counties decline to name firms that won Sh1bn tenders

The 10-bed ICU at the Homa Bay County Referral Hospital. PHOTO | ONDARI OGEGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • An investigation by the Nation has established that Migori, Kisii and Nyamira counties have set aside about Sh1 billion to fight Covid-19.
  • Kisii has a total budget of Sh356 million.
  • Nyamira County received Sh59 million from the national government and set aside Sh110 million from its budget.

Despite spending almost Sh1 billion on Covid-19, most counties in South Nyanza cannot reveal the contractors, even as claims of corruption and misappropriation of funds erupt in the region.

An investigation by the Nation has established that Migori, Kisii and Nyamira counties have set aside about Sh1 billion to fight Covid-19.

Kisii has a total budget of Sh356 million. From this, Sh156 million is a grant received from the national government and the remainder was set aside from its budget.

On its part, Nyamira County received Sh59 million from the national government and set aside Sh110 million from its budget.

Migori received Sh60 million from the national government and set aside Sh40 million from its internal resources. The county assembly later allocated it an additional Sh296 million to fight the pandemic.

Kisii and Migori counties could not verify contractors behind the projects, information that should otherwise be readily available to the public.

As of last week, the number of Covid-19 positive cases was more than 340 in the three counties. This includes 300 in Migori alone, 34 in Kisii, and eight in Nyamira.

Nyamira County currently has about 120 isolation beds, which is far below the 300 target ordered by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

At Nyamira Referral Hospital, a Sh9.5 million Covid-19 isolation centre was launched by Governor John Nyagarama about a month ago.

The 17-bed unit was initially an old-dilapidated amenity wing at the county’s main hospital, which was renovated to be used for Covid-19 cases.

The contractor who was awarded the project is Haemonetics EA Ltd. Its directors are Vincent Orangi Ogega, Rhoda Nyasani Mabiria and Peter Sagwe Mandere. Bombagi Dispensary is also an isolation centre and has five beds.

The Covid-19 facility, which is 85 per cent complete, will have 160 isolation beds.

The contractor, Seaman Building and Civil Engineers Ltd, is on site.

“We realised that it would take a long time to start construction of a new building. We just decided to complete the four-storey building which was still under construction,” said Health Executive Douglas Bosire.

Mr Bosire said that the county had factored Sh142 million for its construction in the previous budget.

He said they gave the project additional funding of Sh35 million from the Covid-19 Emergency Fund which is Sh110 million in total.

Sources from the county government have linked Mr Bosire with the project, claiming the directors of Seaman Building and Civil Engineers Ltd are his in-laws, claims that he has denied.

Our search at the company registry found that Scolastica Wangu Macharia, Margaret Muthoni Macharia and Francis Macharia Mbugua are the directors of the company.

“The directors are not related to me in any way, they are not my in-laws and won the tender competitively. These claims have been there since devolution began,” said Mr Bosire.

Mr Bosire said the county leadership further converted the old operating theatre at the Nyamira Referral Hospital into a five-bed ICU.

Gianche Investments Ltd was awarded the construction project. The directors of this company are listed as Kennedy Ondicho Maranga and Charles Momanyi.

Out of the Sh59 million received from the national government, the county will use the money to equip the isolation centres and help in the construction of a new building.

Already, Sh33 million has been set aside for its construction. The new building, he said, will have a capacity of 160 beds.

At sub county hospitals, preparations to set up more isolation beds are in progress. Kioge Health Facility will have 25 beds, Igena Itambe (60) and Nyakegogi (20).

The health executive further revealed that they are getting other supplies like linen and patients’ uniforms from Kemsa and Rivatex.

“Other local manufacturers have also been supplying us with these items,” he said.

The Nation has, however, established that most of the local manufacturers have no registered companies and it would therefore be tricky for the county government when it comes to accountability.

Mc-Finelly is one of the companies that has been supplying the county with hospital beds.

The county did not disclose how many and how much has been used to buy the beds.

In Kisii, out of the Sh156 million that was availed by the national government for the fight against Covid-19, the county has spent Sh60 million to purchase various items from Kemsa — including ICU ventilators, PPEs, medical equipment, ICU beds, bedside lockers and mattresses.

The county said Sh40million has been spent on renovating and equipping the ward and setting up 10 ICU beds for Covid-19 patients.

Another Sh20 million went into renovation of outlying facilities, purchasing 600 sets of linen and 300 beds, drug trolleys, patient trolleys, lockers and drip stands, among other equipment. The remaining Sh36 million has been set aside for any eventualities.

Kisii is among counties that will only tell you how much they spent, but not who got the contract.

There are no reasons why accounting officials refuse to share recipients of tenders for spending public money.

We asked for verification of this specific information and the procurement companies involved, but officials refused to disclose.

“Top elected leaders in the county use proxies to register the companies. Companies associated with them are awarded major projects, other contractors are locked out,” said a contractor.

We established that Ms Mercy Makena Chweya through her company, Sanitary Napkins Distributors Kenya Limited, was awarded a contract to carry out fumigation in Kisii County. It is not clear how much the company was allocated.

Governor James Ongwae, in one of his functions, thanked Ms Chweya for repackaging for free 3,000 litres of sanitiser donated to Kisii County Government by Kibos Sugar Company Limited of Kisumu to help combat Covid-19.

Some residents however questioned the rationale behind the free packaging, saying it was a cover-up.

In Migori, the Nation established that while the county faces aggressive rate of coronavirus infections, there were only 150 beds in the county’s isolation centre at Macalder Hospital.

Efforts to establish the actual progress on the ground for Covid-19 preparedness were hampered by an obstructionist staff.

A source undertaking construction at the new ICU wing said Bingo Construction Limited was awarded the project. A search of the company revealed names of people who may be relatives.

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