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Sonko quizzed on garbage collection tenders

Wednesday September 4 2019

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko leaves the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission offices in Nairobi on August 1, 2019. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

COLLINS OMULO
By COLLINS OMULO
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Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko Tuesday spent hours at the Integrity Centre, where he recorded statements in regard to questionable multimillion garbage collection and disposal tenders awarded to 13 firms by City Hall.

Governor Sonko emerged some minutes to 4pm to address the press after spending hours at the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) offices where he arrived in the morning to answer to the summons.

QUALIFICATIONS

After emerging from the revolving doors, the governor said he spent two hours with the officers responding to each of the queries raised about the 13 companies contracted by the county government to collect and dispose of garbage. He was accompanied by EALA MP Simon Mbugua, a section of Nairobi MCAs, his chief of staff and his lawyer Cecil Miller.

Mr Sonko arrived at the EACC headquarters some minutes past 6am before being ushered through the revolving doors at 6.45am for questioning.

“I’m not under investigation, but I was summoned as the boss of the county to come and shed light. It took us two hours to record the statements as I was responding to each of the 13 queries, but it took too long as I was waiting for officers, who were supposed to take statement from me,” he said.

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The EACC wants the firms to explain how they won their tenders and the payments made to them with some of the queries dating as far back as April 2017.

Mr Sonko said the questions centred on concerns raised previously by the Nairobi County Environment committee questioning how some of the companies were awarded tenders without proper qualifications and due process of the law.

The governor said most of the questions were on procurement. He was questioned as the overall in-charge of the city county.

“As county boss, I don’t sit in the procurement committee and I’m not the accounting officer but I have the general responsibility for my officers,” he said.

BLACKLISTED

He, however, stated that when he learnt of the select committee’s concerns, he blacklisted the companies and stopped any payments due to them as well as stopping from work the Environment chief officer, who is the accounting officer of the sector, together with the then Environment executive and the former County Secretary.

He had no control on procurement, adding, “that is being done by procurement officers and accounting officers but I stamped my authority once I heard of the matters raised by relieving from duty the concerned officers.”

Mr Sonko was summoned last week, but requested the summons to be pushed to this week as he was out of the country with his family.

EACC is investigating claims of corruption in the award of the tenders for the 2017/18 and 2018/19 financial years.

In March, former Environment Executive Larry Wambua responding to a request by MCA Millicent Jagero on firms contracted to collect garbage by City Hall, gave 14 names

They include Kange Construction, Yiro Enterprises, Creative Consolidated System, J W Mwangi, Tema Home Care, Nyawa Agencies, Felixilease Ltd, Vineyard Holdings, Hardi Enterprises, Jackoy Enterprises, Purlexis Enterprises, Acacia Equipment, Yiro Enterprise and Commodity Waste Management.

IRREGULARLY

Last July, Nairobi County Assembly Public Accounts Committee (PAC) revealed that officials at City Hall’s Environment department could not account for over Sh160 million paid to contracted garbage collectors.

This was after it emerged that the county government irregularly paid a whopping Sh162 million to 11 companies contracted to collect garbage at the county but could not submit payment vouchers made to the companies, the list of the 11 firms and their contractual documents to support the payment.

The watchdog committee was investigating the payment of Sh202,996,053 to the 11 contracted firms with queries emerging from the auditor-general’s report on the expenditure for garbage collection in fiscal 2017/2018.

The report revealed that Sh162,092,407 was paid to some two firms for collecting garbage in areas they were not prequalified and contracted to collect from with only Sh40 million regularly spent in payment.

EXPERIENCE

Five months earlier in February, City Hall was on the spot for awarding a firm a Sh278 million two-year contract for garbage collection in the city centre even though the company had no prior experience in the business.

During a County Assembly Environment committee sitting, it was revealed that Aende Group, which beat three other firms to the contract, had been in existence for only 78 days as opposed to at least one-year experience required for firms to qualify for such a tender.

The company beat Creative Consolidated System, which had been collecting garbage within the city centre since 2013, with a bid of Sh316.9 million, Kemnest Investment and Janel Agencies with the lowest bid at Sh190.7 million.

Aende Group and Company Ltd director Derrick Aende admitted that at the time his firm was bidding for the solid waste collection tender, it had no prior experience in garbage collection.