Parliament has frozen the Sh12.3 billion security contract awarded to Safaricom for supply of a national surveillance system pending the outcome of an enquiry into the legality of the deal.
The National Assembly departmental committee on administration and national security Thursday poked holes into the security tender, saying it was single-sourced thus flouting Kenya’s procurement laws.
The legislators also raised concerns over Safaricom’s technical capacity to roll out the highly sophisticated security contract which involves deploying a countrywide 4G network and supply of walkie-talkies to the police.
There were also concerns regarding Safaricom’s foreign ownership ,with MPs saying it posed a threat of infiltration and espionage, hence exposing Kenya’s national security.
The MPs directed the government not to sign the tender after grilling Interior secretary Joseph ole Lenku, the Principal Secretary Mutea Iringo and Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo in camera for close to four hours on Thursday.
“We directed that they suspend forthwith any signing of the contract. We are not satisfied that we got enough information to give it a clean bill of health,” said Asman Kamama, chair of the House Committee.
“Our concern is the issue of single-sourcing. The CS told us it was a restricted tender but we were not satisfied that due process was followed.”
The Parliamentary team said it would within 10 days present its report to the National Assembly after questioning Safaricom chief executive Bob Collymore, ICT secretary Fred Matiang’i, the Attorney-General, Treasury mandarins and Communications Authority of Kenya boss Francis Wangusi.
The Parliamentary freeze on the Integrated Public Safety Communication and Surveillance System (IPSCSS) comes a day after activist Okiya Omtatah moved to the High Court seeking a declaration that the Safaricom deal is unconstitutional.
Kenya’s quest for a modern security surveillance system started in 2006, but has been beset with tendering hiccups which saw two Chinese firms Huawei and ZTE locked in a protracted legal battle that led to the cancellation of the tender by the procurement watchdog. British telco, Vodafone, is Safaricom’s single largest shareholder with a 40 per cent stake.
President Uhuru Kenyatta announced on Madaraka Day plans to install CCTV cameras and other digital equipment in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and Eldoret.