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Kenya Railways defends SGR bill

Friday February 28 2020

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Kenya Railways Managing Director Philip Mainga. He says the amount of money spent on the standard gauge railway is justifiable. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

PAUL WAFULA
By PAUL WAFULA
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VINCENT ACHUKA
By VINCENT ACHUKA
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Kenya Railways has responded to a Nation exposé that lifted the lid on how its officials, under the supervision of the Transport ministry, immorally inflated the standard gauge railway (SGR) contract.

Kenya Railways Managing Director Philip Mainga said the open nature of the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) Turnkey Contract meant that the contractor was allowed to review and replace specific items based on the changing nature of the project.

“Due to the open nature of the EPC contract, multiple design reviews were carried out. As a result, some of the initial equipment was replaced with options better aligned with project needs,” Mr Mainga said.

He added that the figures in the Sh327 billion contract were not the final ones. “The figures were meant to provide an indication of the recommended equipment for the project and their associated costs as a basis for the negotiation of the final contract,” Mr Mainga said.

However, the contractor provided these items at no additional cost and the quantities even exceeded what was provided for in the Bill of Quantities (BQ).

FENCE, GRASS EXPENSES

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The firm did not provide any specifications for the equipment bought, among the items “special” computers, radios, printers and other communication equipment that cost the Kenyan taxpayer billions of shillings.

Providing this information would help Kenyans to compare and verify the costs.

On civil works, Kenya Railways said the Sh1 billion spent on grass was “relatively competitive as per the market rates for slope protection works”.

The MD explained that the BQ for SGR Phase 1 provided for 3,029,734 square metres for top-soiling and grassing along the entire sub-grade section (450 kilometres) of the SGR from Mombasa to Nairobi, and not just station areas.

This was to be done at a rate of Sh360 per meter squared, inclusive of watering.

The firm said fencing was done using Type B fence (green mesh), which is superior to the normal chain-link fence. Parts of the project also had electric fences.

LABOUR FORCE

On boreholes, Mr Mainga said all boreholes were specified at a minimum depth of 300 metres, adding that the cost of drilling also varied with geotechnical characteristics and the location’s accessibility.

He said the actual number of holes drilled is more than the amount stated in the BQ because many boreholes did not have water.

In an interesting twisting of the reading of the contract, Mr Mainga stated that the Sh239 million earmarked for entertaining Chinese expatriates was for the construction of waiting areas.

Mr Mainga said the Sh5 million airtime allowance was to be distributed amongst all these staff for the entire 3-year contract period.

Cumulatively, the project had 44 Chinese engineers and 151 Kenyan ones.