alexa AG, Health CS to face Senate team over Sh4.9bn contract - Daily Nation

AG, Health CS to face Senate team over Sh4.9bn contract

Wednesday February 12 2020

Health CS Sicily Kariuki  gives coronavirus update

Outgoing Health CS Sicily Kariuki briefs the media on coronavirus prevention and preparedness outside Harambee House in Nairobi on February 7, 2020. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

SAMWEL OWINO
By SAMWEL OWINO
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Attorney-General Paul Kihara and Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki are today expected to face the Senate ad hoc committee to explain the circumstances that led to the cancellation of a Sh4.9 billion contract won by SevenSeas Technology Limited in 2017.

The firm has accused the ministry of unfairly terminating the contract, a move that may cause taxpayers to lose Sh3.9 billion which is to be paid to the company as compensation.

SevenSeas had signed the information communication technology (ICT) services contract covering all 98 hospitals under the government’s managed equipment service (MES) plan.

The scope of the contract entailed provision of healthcare information technology solutions including software and hardware interfaces, training, ongoing maintenance, including changes required to support managed equipment services at county, sub-county and referral health facilities.

When he appeared before the committee chaired by Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dullo last week, chief State counsel James Mwenda, who is attached to the Ministry of Health from the AG’s office, said he had instructions from his boss not to speak on the subject as the AG was willing to appear in person.

The contract, signed on October 2, 2017, was to run for five years. However, the Health ministry, in a letter to Seven Seas dated November 18, 2019, cancelled the tender saying the company has no financial capacity to deliver on the agreement.

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“It’s now apparent that despite having attained a high score in the financial evaluation, your firm does not have the financial capacity to perform the HCIT (health communication information technology) contract and has been unable to mobilise any funding without a government of Kenya letter of support,” read part of the letter signed by health PS Susan Mochache.

Serious allegations

The ministry further said the execution of the project had stalled and accused the company of abandoning the site for more than 16 months.

“Essentially, this means that your firm has been unable to meet the agreed milestones stipulated in schedule seven of the implementation programme,” the letter stated.

“The requirement for an original copy of GoK support letter to be given to your firm does not feature anywhere in the tender documents, and it is overtly clear to the ministry that your firm lacks the requisite financial capacity to execute the HCIT contract.”

Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki told the ad hoc committee on Wednesday that the cancellation of the tender was being investigated by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI).

However, the committee chair said that there was no evidence before it indicating that the matter is under investigations.

“There are serious allegations mentioned by the contractor, he specifically said the CS and the PS have obstructed him from implementing the project. We have therefore invited the Attorney General to appear before us next week,” Ms Dullo said.

The CS, however, maintained that the contract was cancelled on grounds that it did not fully meet the legal requirements.