Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Rail tender cartels rock Jubilee

PHOTO | SALATON NJAU Mr Maina Kamanda (right), chairman of parliamentary committee on Transport, Public Works and Housing, with Mr Alfred Matheka, Kenya Railways acting MD, during a tour of Kenya Railways projects on October 18, 2013.

PHOTO | SALATON NJAU Mr Maina Kamanda (right), chairman of parliamentary committee on Transport, Public Works and Housing, with Mr Alfred Matheka, Kenya Railways acting MD, during a tour of Kenya Railways projects on October 18, 2013.  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By ISAAC ONGIRI
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Business rivalry between powerful brokers targeting multi-billion shilling government tenders is threatening a political explosion in the Jubilee government even as President Kenyatta moves to forestall dissent.

The growing tension, the Nation established, has been precipitated by a recent fall-out in the Sh1trillion standard gauge railway line project launched by the President two weeks ago.

Chinese vendors eying multi-billion tenders being rolled out by the Jubilee government are said to have recruited powerful business figures in the country to act for them, causing tension in the government.

“It is true there are powerful cartels working under the command of multi-billion business people. They are viciously scouting for tenders in government and in state corporations. I can tell you there is a mafia in control,” Starehe MP Maina Kamanda said.

ENTRENCHED IN TRADE

Investigations revealed that top businessmen from Rift Valley are up in arms as they struggle to dislodge those from central Kenya already trading with the government.

Mr Kamanda admitted that the railway project was being fought for by influential people, who were pushing for a rival company that was eyeing the tender, but failed after China and Kenya went for a government-to-government arrangement in a single-sourced tender.

Last month, the Starehe MP and seven members of the Parliamentary committee on Transport, which he chairs, visited Beijing where they met top Chinese officials over the railway tender, days before the launch.

“We were in China and we met various Chinese officials, including their minister for Transport, who told us that the China Railways and Bridges Corporation was equal to the task,” Mr Kamanda said.

However, the visit has been questioned by MPs who argue that the committee is supposed be a watchdog and supervisor of tenders.

On Monday, President Kenyatta rebuked some businessmen, whom he accused of funding MPs to support their tender interests.

“We know their tricks. They want to corruptly get contracts and when they lose, they buy MPs to make noise. I want to ask these MPs to earn their living in the right away,” he said.

And his deputy, Mr William Ruto, said: “If you have lost business or a tender please don’t bring your frustrations to us.”

On Tuesday, Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter, who has caused a storm in the Rift Valley by openly criticising the President and his deputy over the railway tender, denied he was speaking for brokers.

“I have raised pertinent questions on this project. I have said there is overcharging and that Kenya is going to lose Sh400 billion.

I HAVE PAID THE BILL

“Why are they not giving answers? Why are they resorting to side shows?” he asked.

The MP denied that a helicopter he recently used to attend various functions in Nandi was sponsored by some businessmen.

“It is true I have occasionally used a chopper in my constituency, but I have paid the bill. These people use choppers every other time and no one questions their sources,” Mr Keter said.

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