What you need to know:
- Kebs recently de-listed the firm’s brand-less masks alongside WAMNDAS after they were found to be substandard.
- In Kisumu, Hela Intimates EPZ Ltd was paid millions of shillings and entrusted to supply surgical and face masks.
- But the company turned out to be a big disappointment.
The rush to prepare for the battle against the coronavirus occasioned suspected tendering irregularities and in some cases blunders that endangered lives in Nyanza counties.
Investigations by the Nation reveal that some of the firms that were awarded multimillion-shilling contracts are not properly registered, while others lacked the capacity to deliver.
In Kisumu, Hela Intimates EPZ Ltd, a company that was paid millions of shillings and entrusted to supply surgical and face masks, turned out to be a big disappointment.
The Kenya Bureau of Standards recently de-listed the firm’s brand-less masks alongside WAMNDAS – manufactured by Wandas General Supplies – after they were found to be substandard.
Failed quality test
ARAX masks, manufactured by Arax Mills, also suffered a similar fate after failing the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) quality test.
In a report seen by the Nation, Kebs said the manufacturers supplying the surgical face masks failed to give the type and weight of the gear, among other requirements.
Hela is owned by Hela Kenya Private Limited as a shareholder and its two directors are listed as Warnakulasooriya Mahawaduge, Shameen Ravindra Peiris and Panadura Liyanage Dilanka Jinadasa.
Earlier in July, nurses in Kisumu had raised concerns over the quality of the face masks supplied by the county government.
Health workers exposed
The concerns came after some health workers were exposed to Covid-19, which they blamed on the quality of PPE, including face masks.
Professor Anyang’ Nyong’o’s administration also procured 259 beds from a Christian non-profit organisation that is registered as a Trust of the ecumenical partnership of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) and the Christian Health Association of Kenya (CHAK).
The beds were delivered to Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH), Kisumu County Referral Hospital and Lumumba Hospital.
Nothing to hide
“These are public funds and we are using them for the purposes they were meant for, therefore we have nothing to hide,” Kisumu County’s Chief Officer for Health Joseph Okweso, said.
“We have done the procurement process fairly and competitively. There is no day we have asked one firm to supply many items,” he added.
Dr Okweso promised to produce records and documents to support his sentiments, but was yet to do so by the time we went to press.
Kisumu received Sh159 million from the Sh5 billion Covid-19 package announced by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The lakeside county allocated another Sh200 million in its budget, which was recently approved by the county assembly.
On top of this, Sh3.7million was raised from the pay cuts imposed on senior county officials, including Prof Nyong’o and his Deputy Mathews Owili.
Siaya, one of the counties singled out by President Kenyatta as ill-prepared for Covid-19 war, is currently constructing a 200-bed isolation facility at the Siaya County Referral Hospital as well as another 50-bed unit in both Bondo Sub-county and Ambira Sub-county hospitals, each to bring the total number to 300 beds.
Mijesh Enterprises Limited and Aberland Enterprises share the same office in Kisumu city’s Guilders Plaza and have sub-contracted Thermoteq from Machakos County, which provides the prefabricated thermo wall panels used in construction of isolation units.
According to a search the Nation conducted at the Registrar of Companies, the firm’s directors are listed as Mrs Christine Akoth Juma and Mr Martine Juma Otieno, popularly known in the political arena as Mijesh.
Mijesh is said to be a prominent businessman in Siaya County and is eyeing the Alego Usonga parliamentary seat in 2022.
When the Nation visited all the sites, the workers were busy trying to meet the August 15 deadline to hand over the project to the county.
However, despite Aberland Enterprises being on the pre-qualified list for Siaya 2019/2020, a search at the Registrar of Companies revealed no records on the company.
Blue Oak Pharmacy Limited, whose director is Mr Christian Kevin Omondi Olendo, was awarded a tender to supply Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) – face masks, gumboots, gowns and surgical masks – to the tune of Sh16.3 million, according to the records.
While Batoka Pharmacy Limited, whose directors are Dr Lucy Chite and Sharon Aluoch Omollo, supplied various drugs, infrared thermometers and laboratory items, Theodoric Enterprises Limited supplied Siaya County with 75 single crunch beds, complete with mattresses and bedside cabinets.
The beds, which were at the store when we visited the Siaya County Referral Hospital, are to be placed at the new isolation unit, whose construction is almost complete.
Automated spray pumps
Ellareeh Pharmaceuticals Limited was also contracted to supply automated spray pumps and other laboratory items.
Its directors, according to a search at the Registrar of Companies, are Ms Brenda Atieno Wakwaya and Ms Diana Adhiambo Wakwaya.
However, a company by the name Mums Pharmaceuticals supplied drugs but its records cannot be found at the Registrar of Companies.
The only names available were Mum’s Health Care Limited, Mum’s Den Enterprises Limited, Mums Magic Limited among others.
Dr Felix Tindi, the county pharmacist, revealed that all the tendering was being done at the highest level of the administration and that all the suppliers and contractors were all local firms and were awarded fairly after winning competitive bids.
In Homa Bay, Nyams Trading Company Limited was contracted to convert part of the county’s blood bank to an intensive care unit at the Homa Bay County Referral Hospital but a search in the companies’ registry did not reveal any records on the firm.
The unit, however, has fully fitted 10 ICU units, five functional beds with ventilators and piped oxygen.
There are also unconfirmed reports that a senior officer in the national government from Homa Bay County could have benefited from the tenders awarded by Governor Cyprian Awiti to renovate some of the health facilities that are to be used as isolation units.
His firm is said to be among the few that were not given the letters in public.
Firms such as Prama Investment Limited, Danglo Construction Company and Homa Bay Engineering Construction companies, who were contracted to renovate hospitals in Homa Bay County, are not properly registered or listed in the official companies’ registry database.
Prama renovated Nyagoro Health Centre in Rangwe, Homa Bay Engineering Construction Limited was given Kandiege Health Centre in Karachuonyo while Danglo renovated Pal Koguta in Ndhiwa.
Others include Bikemo Agencies Limited, which is owned by John Angiro Oduka.
The firm was awarded a tender to refurbish Nyagiela in Kasipul Constituency.
Kombiro Building Company Limited, whose directors are Ms Caroline Akinyi and Mr Isaiah Odhiambo Mbim, was awarded the tender to renovate Ober in Kabondo Kasipul while Vinago Company Limited, owned by Mr Vincent Willis Omuono and Ms Lillian Oyuga Ojwang, was given Tom Mboya Level Four Hospital in Rusinga.
Their work included general rehabilitation of old buildings like replacing broken window panes and improving the drainage system.
Health executive Richard Muga maintained that the procurement team awarded the contracts fairly despite the county carrying out emergency procurement because of the short period they had to purchase the materials and equipment needed to fight Covid-19.
“We have a procurement committee that dealt with this appropriately. Most of our PPEs were acquired from Kemsa but all our contractors and suppliers delivered the items we ordered from them,” said Prof Muga