Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa has told his PS Patrick Nduati Mwangi to carry his own cross on the controversy surrounding the award of a Sh62.3 billion tender for construction of Thwake dam.
Mr Wamalwa warned Mr Mwangi that he will be held personally responsible if his decision to award the tender to the second lowest evaluated bidder leads to an extra cost of Sh3 billion.
Mr Wamalwa told the Agriculture parliamentary committee that the PS had sought his opinion, that of the Attorney General, the project financier — African Development Bank (AfDB) — and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), who all advised that Mr Mwangi awards the contract to the lowest evaluated bidder.
The committee is investigating the circumstances under which Mr Mwangi is refusing to award the multi-billion project to a company that is alleged to have been blacklisted by the AfDB and the World Bank for “integrity issues”.
The CS and his PS have been at loggerheads over the award of the tender over which two Chinese firms — China Gezhouba Construction Group Corporation (CGGC) and Stecol Corporation (Sino Hydro Tianjin Engineering Co Ltd) — have tussled to win.
Picking the winner of the contract has sparked a vicious war pitting Mr Wamalwa and Mr Mwangi.
While Mr Wamalwa insists that the contract should be awarded to the lowest bidder — China Gezhouba as recommended by the Tender Processing Evaluation Committee (TPC), Mr Mwangi has sided with the recommendations of the Ministerial Tender Committee (MTC) that approved award of the contract to the second highest evaluated bidder (Sino Hydro).
The tender committee, which Mr Mwangi appointed on February 9, 2017, overruled recommendations of the TPC to award the Sh62.3 billion tender to CGGC, the lowest evaluated bidder.
CGCC put in a bid of Sh36.9 billion for the first phase of the multi-billion shilling dam, but the tender committee went ahead and awarded the contract to (Sino Hydro) at a cost of Sh39.5 billion.
Mr Mwangi on Wednesday told MPs that he would back the decision of the tender committee, meaning that if he goes ahead to award the tender to Sino Hydro, the second lowest bidder, taxpayers will pay Sh3 billion more for phase one of the project.
“As of the issue of integrity, I will uphold provisions of Chapter 10 on Leadership and Integrity. I back the decision of the MTC, which by law approves the award of the tender,” he said.
Mr Wamalwa said although the issues of integrity are key, section 227 of the Constitution require the PS to award the tender “in accordance with a system that is fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost- effective.”
“The AfDB, the Attorney-General, EACC and myself have advised him to award the tender to the lowest evaluated bidder, Gezhouba.
“Your (MPs) decision is very important as to whether or not this project will collapse or stand,” Mr Wamalwa told the Mohamed Noor-led committee.
Mr Wamalwa reminded the PS that even in the Bible Jesus, at one point wanted the cup to be taken away from him.
“He (PS) has wanted this cup (tender) to be taken away from him. He has gone to seek advice from AG, the AfDB, the EACC and myself and he has been given the cup back. I ask this committee to return the cup to him and let him drink from it and make the decision whether right or wrong. But he will be held accountable for that decision,” Mr Wamalwa told MPs.
The tender committee raised the question of debarment of one of Gezhouba’s subsidiaries — Gezhouba Group No 1 Engineering — and the relationship between Gezhouba and China Power and Water Engineering Company, to reverse the award of the tender to the lowest bidder.
“I am here with chairman of the Tender Evaluation Committee Musembi Munyao and Ministerial Tender Chairman Nicholas Wambua and they both confirm that their committees did their work,” said Mr Wamalwa.