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Kitui dam set to cost taxpayers Sh3b more

Taxpayers risk forking out Sh3 billion more if Irrigation principal secretary Patrick Nduati Mwangi awards the controversial tender for construction of Thwake dam to the second lowest bidder as recommended by the Ministerial Tender Committee (MTC).

Official bidding documents show that the MTC, which Mr Mwangi appointed on February 9, 2017, overruled recommendations of the Tender Processing Committee (TPC) to award the Sh62.3 billion tender to China Gezhouba Construction Group Corporation (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 MTC went ahead and awarded the contract to STECOL Corporation (Sino Hydro Tianjin Engineering Co Ltd) at a cost of Sh39.5 billion.

This means that should the project be awarded to Sino Hydro, the second lowest bidder, taxpayers will pay Sh3 billion more for phase one of the project.

MTC 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.

Picking the winner of the contract has sparked a vicious war pitting Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary (CS) Eugene Wamalwa and Mr Mwangi.

The PS on Tuesday told Parliament that he had turned down the minister’s directive to award the contract to China Gezhouba because the firm had integrity issues having been blacklisted by the World Bank and the African Development Bank (AfDB).

The PS confirmed that China Gezhouba had used the experience of one of its subsidiaries to support its bid – China Engineering Company Number 1 – which the World Bank and AfDB had blocked from bidding for the Thwake dam contract on ethical grounds.

But documents show that AfDB had granted the ministry a no-objection to the award of the contract to China Gezhouba.

“With regard to the experience of M/s China Gezhouba and the use of experience of cross debarred subsidiaries, the bank (AfDB) has stated in its letter that this was adequately addressed during the prequalification process and cannot be raised again at this evaluation stage. The bank deems its earlier response on this issue adequate and binding,” Gabriel Negatu, AfDB director general Eastern Africa Regional Centre wrote in response to Mr Mwangi’s letter requesting advice on potential compliance issues with China Gezhouba. A legal opinion sought by Mr Wamalwa from Attorney- General Githu Muigai supported the AfDB position.

“On the opinion and position of Attorney-General and AfDB, we are bound by the Constitution of this land. In my understanding, the Constitution is not subjugated by any law or opinion that goes against the law of the land. Any opinion that goes against Article 10 of the Constitution on Leadership and Integrity cannot be implemented through my office. The Attorney-General’s opinion is important but remains exactly that, an opinion,” Mr Mwangi told MPs.

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