Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto on the spot over contracts to siblings

Tuesday January 26 2016

Senators on Tuesday put to task Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto to explain why the county government had given contracts worth millions of shillings to three companies belonging to his brother and sister.  FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Senators on Tuesday put to task Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto to explain why the county government had given contracts worth millions of shillings to three companies belonging to his brother and sister. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By JEREMIAH KIPLANG'AT
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Senators on Tuesday put to task Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto to explain why the county government had given contracts worth millions of shillings to three companies belonging to his brother and sister.

The governor has been accused, in a petition before the Senate, of using companies belonging to close relatives to indirectly award lucrative tenders to himself.

The Senate Finance Committee invited the county boss to appear before it at County Hall, Nairobi, to explain why he had given tenders and contracts to 10 companies including three owned by either his brother, Micah Ruttoh, or sister, Ms Joyce Chepkorir Tirop.

According to the petitioners, one company, Erickson Company Ltd, co-owned by Mr Ruttoh and Ms Tirop, and another, Tundo Roadcon Ltd, owned by the brother, have been awarded tenders to construct roads in the county without following due procedures.

Another company, Rumic Construction and Civil Engineering Ltd, which is co-owned by Mr Ruttoh and Ms Caren Chepngeno, has also been cited as a beneficiary of road construction tenders that are not subjected to due process.

Yet another company, Wesmic Ltd, also owned by Mr Ruttoh, the governor’s brother, was indicated in the petition as the sole supplier of stationery in the county.

COST OF TENDERS

The petitioners did not indicate the cost of the tenders given to the mentioned companies, but a report by the county assembly indicated that Sh200 million was allocated for road construction in the 2014/15 financial year.

“Apart from using unorthodox means to get tenders, there is no evaluation carried on the quality of materials supplied…. the two dubious companies have constructed more than 50 per cent of all the county roads constructed so far and their payments have been prompt without delay,” said the petitioners.

The House team is looking into the allegations made in the petition presented by 14 county residents and on Tuesday, it invited the governor to give his side of the story.

The governor said he had not used his relatives to get tenders indirectly, but he did not deny that the companies belonged to his siblings.

“The existence of my relatives in the county does not mean I am using them to get tenders and contracts. The petitioners have to present evidence that I am directly benefitting. These are unsubstantiated allegations and the petitioners should shed more light on this to warrant a response,” said the governor, who was hard-pressed to explain why the companies got big contracts.

OWNERSHIP DOCUMENTS

Earlier, the governor had denied knowing the directors of the firms, but committee chairman Billow Kerrow read to him ownership documents from the Registrar of Companies that confirmed the individuals as the true owners.

“We have documents indicating that the owners are related to you. The same directors appear on several companies that have been given tenders and contracts. These are documents from the Registrar of Companies,” said Mr Kerrow.

The committee gave the governor three weeks to familiarise himself with the registrar’s documents before he returns to answer more questions from the panel on February 16.

The governor will be required to present a list of all the 3,750 employees working for the county government and their qualifications.

The petitioners had accused the governor of employing staff without the input of the county public service board as required by the County Government Act.

On Tuesday, the governor failed to present the list, saying it was bulky. However, senators dismissed his excuse, saying he must present it when he appears before the committee again.

“You are saying you will not present the list because it is big? If this committee wishes you present it, you must do so,” said Migori Senator Wilfred Machage.