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EACC raids Kericho offices in Kerenga Airstrip tender probe

Tuesday August 7 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 

ANITA CHEPKOECH
By ANITA CHEPKOECH
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Detectives from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) have raided Kericho County government offices and taken away files as part of formal investigations into the controversial Sh100 million tender for the expansion of Kerenga Airstrip.

The EACC team made an impromptu visit to the county’s procurement offices Tuesday morning in search of crucial documents which will help them investigate the claims that the tendering process for the upgrade of the airstrip was done illegally.

The raid follows a letter by Belgut MP Nelson Koech which he wrote to the commission asking it to investigate the tender award.

IRREGULARITIES

“We have launched investigations into the airport issue. There are claims of procurement irregularities among other issues which we will be looking at. We will probe the issue objectively,” said EACC Communications Officer Yasin Amaro, adding that county officers found culpable will be arrested.

“Once investigations are complete, the law will follow its course and the arrest and prosecutions of individuals suspected of flouting procurement laws will commence,” he said.

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FREEZE ACCOUNTS

The team said they will seek orders to freeze accounts of certain top officials believed to have had a hand in the tender.

Three months ago, the Belgut MP raised the alarm over the tendering process.

He said besides the company awarded the tender using fake documents to procure it, it was also a proxy firm connected to the Chief Executive Committee Member for Roads, who, according to law, should not seek any contract from the county.

“There is a clear rot and theft in Kericho County and I have written to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate several cases of misuse of public funds in the county – from non-remittance or banking of revenue collected in the county which is unaccounted for, to the tender on expansion of Kerenga Airstrip,” Mr Koech told journalists in Kericho.

FAKE DOCUMENTS

“I have information on how that particular company faked documents, bank statements and how the CEC in charge of that section colluded with them in filling the documents so that they could get kickbacks of the same. I have made those revelations to the EACC and they have all the documents they will need,” added the MP.

The plans to expand Kerenga had earlier been marred by controversy after some MCAs opposed it on grounds that it was not a priority need and that Governor Paul Chepkwony was bulldozing his way to have it built.

SLASHED BUDGET

Whereas the county assembly later slashed the budget to Sh25 million, Mr Koech wondered why the executive had inflated the original figure to about Sh100 million.

Mr Koech, who was initially in the camp that supported Prof Chepkwony in the expansion bid, has since backtracked after what he termed as a realisation that it was a scheme being used by particular CECs who double up as contractors in Kericho to loot public money.

“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.

He also asked the agency to conduct a lifestyle audit on officers involved in the running of the county’s affairs of the and in particular the CEC for Roads, whose docket is directly in charge, not only of the Kerenga Airstrip upgrade but also infrastructure works done in the past.