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Mobile clinics: The face of graft and impunity in Kenya

Friday April 12 2019

Mobile clinics

One of the portable clinics stored at the NYS yard in Miritini, Mombasa. The clinics must first be furnished before being operationalised. PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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The rust can be spotted from a distance.

The mobile clinics rotting away in Mombasa give a face to just how corruption in government can destroy a noble vision, even where saving lives is concerned.

The controversial mobile clinics have for almost four years remained unused, enduring the sun and rain at the Miritini National Youth Service (NYS) yard.

The Sh800 million mobile container clinics continue to rot at the facility, having been rocked by a scandal that has been a double loss for taxpayers, who have not had a chance to use them and may now need to spend more than Sh600 million to furnish them and return them back to a usable state.

In Nairobi, Ministry of Health officials plan to hire 400 health workers and attach at least four to each clinic: a clinical officer, two nurses and a laboratory technician.



Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache told Parliament this week that the ministry will need about Sh336 million per annum to run the clinics.

Transportation to various sites around the country and medical supplies are expected to cost the taxpayer Sh330 million.

To operationalise them, the government will need to build toilets in them and get connection to water and electricity.

They will also need a waiting bay where patients will que as they wait for their turn to be treated.

But as the government moves to spend more money on rehabilitating them, it is yet to prosecute any official for the scam that rocked the Health ministry in 2016.


Kenya Revenue Authority filings revealed that Estama Investments, the firm contracted to bring in the medical equipment, bought each of the 100 clinics at Sh1.4 million and sold them to the government at Sh10 million each, making a handsome profit.

The containers are still at the NYS yard in Mombasa since 2015. Parliament’s health committee in May last year ordered the Health ministry to transport the clinics to informal settlements in counties, but due to a stalemate in funding they are yet to be moved.

“The doors are the most affected by rust. Some doors are no longer stable,” said a source at the yard.

“None of them has been taken out of the yard. We are just ensuring that they are secured here,” said an NYS official who is not allowed to speak to the media. A peep into one of the containers revealed cobwebs and partitions.


Counties that were supposed to receive the clinics are Kisumu, Nairobi, Murang’a, Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Kericho, Nakuru, Nandi and Makueni.

The Ministry of Health indicated that Mombasa would get six, Makueni three, and Nakuru and Nairobi counties 20 containers each.

Among services meant to be offered through the scheme were maternal and child health, emergency, outpatient, post-rape care, HIV/TB care, family planning, immunisation, growth monitoring and laboratory.

The Afya House scam came to light in 2016 after a draft internal audit report leaked to the media suggested that the Health ministry could have lost over Sh5 billion in an NYS-like theft syndicate where government officials conspired with suppliers to divert funds, do double payment for goods delivered and manipulate the Integrated Financial Management System (Ifmis).


The ministry put up a spirited effort to defend itself on grounds that the audit was still in a draft format and all the issues raised would have been resolved in the final audit.

But the purchase of unfurnished portable clinics at inflated amounts left the ministry with an egg on its face.

Unfazed, the ministry has for years been trying to get Parliament to approve additional funding to go towards furnishing the containers and hiring medical personnel to run them.

By the time of the audit Estama Investment Limited had not delivered them four months after the financial year ended.

Estama was paid the money in three instalments - including Sh400 million on June 27, a transaction for which the payment voucher could not be found during the audit.


Even more questionable is the fact that Estama raised a separate purchase order for Sh200 million on June 30 and got paid the same day.

The audit also found that Estama was paid despite not meeting Kenya Revenue Authority’s requirements on the use of electronic tax register (ETR) receipts, tax compliance and PIN number.

The audit report said this raised the red flag on whether the firm met legal requirements to be considered for a government contract.

The firm was among private companies, civil servants and government departments that benefited from Sh889 million that was diverted from the free maternity programme at the expense of county governments.