Bungoma’s Sh10,000 per jerrycan supplier was paid in single day

Bungoma Governor Wycliffe Wangamati addresses the press at the county's head office on April 11, 2020, on claims of the purchase of 600 20-litre jerrycans at Sh10,000. PHOTO | BRIAN OJAMAA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • The suppliers include a shadowy firm that supplied 600 handwashing jerrycans, which Governor Wycliffe Wangamati claimed were “donated” but could not name the alleged donors.

  • On March 18, nine cheques of Sh776,223 each were drawn from the county’s account at Kenya Commercial Bank, according to investigations by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.

Fresh details have emerged on the suspected multi-million-shilling scandal that has rocked Covid-19 fight in Bungoma County.

The Nation is in possession of documents that reveal how up to Sh6.9 million was withdrawn from the county’s bank account in a single day and handed to county staff who paid suppliers in cash.

On March 18, nine cheques of Sh776,223 each were drawn from the county’s account at Kenya Commercial Bank, according to investigations by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).

“The big withdrawals are very suspect and are in violation of public procurement law,” said a manager at EACC Bungoma office.

“Anything above Sh10,000 requires tendering and we don’t withdraw cash to pay suppliers. The money should be wired.”

From the bank payments schedule, the recipients of the cash include Carolyne Nabalayo, Kizito Wabwile, Noel Nalyaka, Kevin Namulala, Pamela Serut, Martin Nyongesa and three hospital employees.

The suppliers include a shadowy firm that supplied 600 handwashing jerrycans, which Governor Wycliffe Wangamati claimed were “donated” but could not name the alleged donors.

“We are not naming the firm at this stage because we are still looking into their case,” the EACC manager said.

Minutes of the county Covid-19 committee meeting dated March 23 reveal the jerrycans were among items that had already been procured by the county’s department of special programmes.

“We have acquired the following and are being stored at Mabanga Farmers Training Centre: 600 bottles of sanitisers; 600 bottles of hand washing soap; 600 units of 20-litre taped jerrycans and 20,000 information flyers,” Ms Carolyne Buyela, the county director of special programmes, told the meeting.

Sources in the governor’s office and the county assembly yesterday told the Nation that the containers that are said to have cost Sh10,000 apiece were bought in Nairobi.

“The supplier was paid Sh1,400 per jerrycan and we just don’t understand how the containers cost Sh10,000,” a source, who sought anonymity due to sensitivity of the matter, told the Nation.

On Monday, it emerged that the supplier of the containers was under intense pressure from the executive to change the nature of their business transaction to a donation.

The Sh6.9 million was borrowed from Bungoma County Referral Hospital by the county’s Finance Chief Officer Jonathan Namulala.

EACC yesterday said it had started investigations into the scandal, with letters summoning suspects being released today.

The commission is expected to cast its net wider to put under spotlight other suspicious expenditures by the county’s Covid-19 committee.

They include the alleged purchase of Sh3,000 mattresses at Sh10,000 and gloves that go for less than Sh2,500 per box at Sh10,000.

Mr Wangamati on Saturday maintained that his government had not embezzled any money and accused his rivals of using his war on Covid-19 to settle political scores.

He said anyone with evidence on the alleged looting should present it to EACC.

But in a related development, hired goons Monday attacked human rights activists and a blogger as they addressed the media on the alleged scandal.

Mr Barasa Nyukuri of Centre for Human Rights Advocacy and blogger Ikue Ikue were injured and were treated at Bungoma Referral Hospital.

They demanded the resignation of officers accused of looting from the public by cooking figures in Covid-19 budgets.

They recorded statements at Bungoma Police Station and officers said they would investigate the attack that did not spare journalists. 

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