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Licence of industrial lab Agriq-Quest suspended

Kenya Accreditation Service MD Sammy Milgo (right) issues a certificate to Agriq-Quest CEO Fredrick Muthuri in 2012. PHOTO | COURTESTY
Kenya Accreditation Service MD Sammy Milgo (right) issues a certificate to Agriq-Quest CEO Fredrick Muthuri in 2012. PHOTO | COURTESTY 

An industrial laboratory that was embroiled in controversy with the government last year has had its licence suspended.

The Kenya Accreditation Service (Kenas) announced that it suspended Agriq-Quest Ltd’s licence this month.

The Nairobi-based company came into the limelight mid last year in a dispute with the Ministry of Health over a controversial tetanus and polio vaccination.

Speaking to the Business Daily on phone, the company’s CEO, Fredrick Muthuri, confirmed that the licence was suspended but complained that there was foul play in the manner in which the suspension was carried out.

“We have disputed it. We filed for mitigation and met with the appeals committee yesterday (Wednesday). We were given no reason at all,” he said.

However, inside sources said the revocation was as a result of failure to meet the required laboratory operational standards.

The audit was carried out in December 2016, and the results released early this month.

A former employee at Agriq-Quest who requested anonymity for fear of victimisation claimed that the lab lacked capacity to carry out the tests it was handling for its clients, including the Ministry of Health and several industries such as Tullow Oil Plc and purified drinking water manufacturers.

The employee, who is well acquainted with lab procedures but resigned from the company towards the end of 2016, said an audit of the lab was carried out by officials from the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (Ilac) in conjunction with Kenas.

Ilac is a global body that oversees accreditation internationally and Kenas is an associate member.

“Ilac came to audit Kenas. They usually do this by picking one of the labs that Kenas accredited and this time it happened that they picked Quest. They did their audit together with someone from Kenas and found that the lab is not compliant,” he said.

However, Mr Muthuri said the lab carries out chemical and micro-biology tests whereas only a portion of its analytical services were tested during the audit.

Efforts to reach Kenas for a comment were futile as our phone calls and email enquiries went unanswered.

Agriq-Quest, through their lawyer Gitobu Imanyara, last year claimed that the government had not paid them Sh13.8 million for tests performed on controversial tetanus and polio vaccines.

They claimed that the government’s decision was as a result of the company’s refusal to doctor results in favour on the Ministry of Health which had jointly asked for the analysis with the Catholic Church.

The company’s results from tests carried out on the vials showed that the samples of the vaccines were contaminated as had been claimed by the Catholic Church and Agriq-Quest claimed the government wanted the results altered to show that they were fit to be administered to women and children.

“The debt is still there… we have had a tug of war about that. Kenas is a government institution and we expected them to act professionally,” Mr Muthuri said on Thursday.

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