Three MPs question Safaricom security deal

Wednesday June 4 2014

From Left- NTSA chairman Lee Kinyanjui, former Traffic Police Commandant Samuel Kimaru and Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore during the presentation of speed cameras to the Traffic department at Safaricom Ltd offices in Nairobi on November 26, 2013. Three MPs have questioned the legality of the deal where Safaricom was handed the contract to run an integrated security and information system for the government.  PHOTO/FILE

From Left- NTSA chairman Lee Kinyanjui, former Traffic Police Commandant Samuel Kimaru and Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore during the presentation of speed cameras to the Traffic department at Safaricom Ltd offices in Nairobi on November 26, 2013. Three MPs have questioned the legality of the deal where Safaricom was handed the contract to run an integrated security and information system for the government. PHOTO/FILE  

JOHN NGIRACHU
By JOHN NGIRACHU
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Three MPs have questioned the legality of the deal where Safaricom was handed the contract to run an integrated security and information system for the government.

Nicholas Gumbo (Rarieda, ODM), John Mbadi (Suba, ODM) and Vincent Musyoka (Mwala, CCU) said giving Safaricom the contract over the Command and Control system amounts to exposing the country’s security.

They have argued against the awarding of the contract to Safaricom on the basis that it was single-sourced contrary to procurement laws and that foreigners own a significant chunk of Safaricom.

(Read: Sh14bn Safaricom deal to boost war on terror)
In a statement read by Mr Gumbo, the MPs said the project shouldn’t go ahead until Kenyans get comprehensive answers to the many questions there are regarding the project.

“As representatives of the people, it would amount to serious dereliction of duty on our part if this system was to be implemented before the questions are satisfactorily answered,” said Mr Gumbo.

Mr Gumbo and Mr Musyoka are members of the Energy and Information Committee, which they said would take up the matter and seek answers from the Executive.

The Committee on National Security and Administration is also handling the matter and was furious last week when Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Ole Lenku failed to show up for a meeting with them.

The government says the system will first be implemented in Nairobi and Mombasa.

It uses a network of linked security cameras above the streets and a command centre.

The cameras will have facial recognition technology and from the command centre, operators will be able to direct policemen on the ground to places where the suspected criminals or terrorists are located.

Eventually, the President has said, the portable radios policemen use would also have cameras so that they are able to take photographs of suspects and crime scenes and send them back to the command centre.

But according to the MPs, questions linger over the ability of Safaricom to deliver on their part and whether it would be right to allow them access to such a sensitive national project.

“Where is the record to support Safaricom’s ability to support this far more sophicated and much strategic network when it seems to be struggling to meet conditions of its licence?” Mr Gumbo asked.

“We all want to be secure but we cannot trust Safaricom with the issue of security in this country.”

Mr Gumbo said Kenyans have suffered huge losses in the past under projects listed as security communications and it is important to be careful on the current project.

“What safeguards have we put in place to prevent the making of another Anglo-Leasing? Is Safaricom label as Kenya’s blue chip entity the only sanitization for such a strategic project?” he asked.

Mr Mbadi said the matter is shrouded in secrecy.

“We are not questioning the integrity of Safaricom as a company as we also don’t know, but we are worried of the shrewd secrecy under which this security project is being carried out” he said.

“We want answers from President Uhuru Kenyatta whether he will take responsibility should this system fail and the security of Kenyans is exposed,” he added.

Mbadi also wants Safaricom to express their interest over the deal as it is a profit making entity and not a charitable organisation.

“Safaricom is a profit making entity and not a charitable organisation, we need to know what they will gain over this deal.”

Mr Musyoka said there are other better alternatives that the government can explore other than entrusting Safaricom with the security of the country.

“We don’t want to be faulted for speaking politics in this matter, we want the President and the Cabinet Secretary concerned to answer to the questions raised-anybody can work for Safaricom including Al Shabaab, how safe then are we with this project?” he asked.