EACC grills Chepkwony in Kerenga airstrip probe - Daily Nation

EACC questions Chepkwony on Kerenga airstrip tendering

Wednesday September 19 2018

Kerenga Airstrip in Kericho County.

Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony (right) with former Kenya Civil Aviation Authority chairman Samuel Poghisio at the Kerenga Airstrip runway in January 2017. The EACC has questioned Mr Chepkwony over the tendering for the project. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By ANITA CHEPKOECH
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Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) detectives have grilled Kericho County Governor Paul Chepkwony over flawed tendering for the expansion of Kerenga airstrip.

EACC Spokesman Yasin Amaro said on Wednesday that Mr Chepkwony was summoned to the commission headquarters at Integrity Centre in Nairobi County, where he recorded a statement.

RAID

"The governor was questioned over the karenga airstrip issue," Mr Amaro said, in reference to the incident on Tuesday evening.

Mr Chepkwony's grilling is a development that follows the August 7 raid of Kericho's procurement offices. The detectives carted away crucial files touching on the airstrip project.

The raid followed whistleblowing by Belgut Member of Parliament Nelson Koech, who claimed the company awarded the tender not only used fake documents but was also was a proxy firm of the Chief Executive Committee Member for roads.

The law states that the holder of this office should not seek any contract.

In his letter, Mr Koech further drew the commission's attention to an alleged alteration of the requirement for eligible bidders to have the National Construction Authority (NCA) 3 qualification.

“There is clear rot and theft in Kericho. I have written to the EACC to investigate several cases of misuse of public funds; from non-remittance and banking of revenue collected and unaccounted for, to the tender on the expansion of Kerenga airstrip,” he told journalists in Kericho.

“I have information on how the winning company faked documents and bank statements and how the CEC in charge of that section colluded with them in filling the documents so they could get kickbacks," he went on to say, adding he made the revelations to the EACC and availed testimonials.

LAUNCH ON

The county, however, released a statement indicating that it will officially launch the upgrade of the airstrip on Friday.

The plan to expand Kerenga were, from the start, marred by controversy after a section of MCAs opposed it on grounds that it was not a priority and that Governor Chepkwony bulldozed for it to be built.

The assembly later slashed the budget to Sh25 million but Mr Koech wondered why the executive maintained the Sh100 million figure that was the project's budget.

The MP, who was initially in the camp that supported Mr Chepkwony in the expansion bid, backtracked after what he termed as the realisation that it was a scheme by particular CECs who double up as contractors to loot the public.

“In the wisdom of the assembly, the upgrade of the airstrip should have cost between Sh15 million and Sh25million, in case of variation, but the money allocated in the tender is Sh97 million,” he said, promising to release the names of the companies that bid despite not meeting the threshold.

TAXPAYERS' MONEY

In a letter he wrote to EACC Chief Executive Officer Halakhe Waqo, Mr Koech said the executive advertised the tender and made dubious changes midway.

He claimed that this was from permit type NCA 2, which requires financial and machinery strength (showing that the company has the ability to undertake a job worth Sh100 million), to the lower level NCA3, to suit individuals that they wanted to give the tender.

“Kindly look into the process of the rehabilitation and in particular, the alteration of the requirement for eligible bidders to have NCA2 to NCA3 qualifications, which I have reasons to believe were deliberate and meant to favour particular interests,” his letter states.

"I believe your swift action shall avert more loss of taxpayers' money.”

The lawmaker also asked the agency to conduct a lifestyle audit of officers involved in the running of the affairs of the county. He singled out the CEC for roads, whose docket is directly in charge of the Kerenga airstrip upgrade and infrastructure work done in the past.

Mr Koech also invited the EACC to probe the much-hyped Sh98 million case against the British government for colonial injustices, terming it a pure scheme to con residents and enrich a few individuals.