Watchdog questions Kenya Power over Sh22bn smart meter tender


Kenya Power Offices along Aga Khan Walk as pictured on April 23, 2023. PHOTO | LUCY WANJIRU | NMG

The Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) has written to Kenya Power demanding an explanation on a Sh22 billion tender for the supply of meters, which was restricted to local manufacturers and assemblers.

PPRA in a letter to Kenya Power managing director Dr Joseph Siror wants the power utility company to demonstrate if the tender complied with the principles of fairness and non-discrimination of bidders.

Four local assemblers and manufacturers were awarded the multi-billion tender but Mr Benedict Kabugi Ndung’u filed a complaint alleging that the distributor irregularly and unlawfully restricted the tender to local assemblers.

Mr Kabugi said tender documents issued to bidders after the advertisement in February said eligibility criteria were only for local manufacturers.

“In view of the foregoing and pursuant to sections 99h), 34 and 35 of the Act, submit to us your response to the allegations raised including an explanation demonstrating your procuring entity’s compliance to the principles of fairness and non-discrimination of bidders participating in the subject procurement and current status of the subject procurement proceeding,” PPRA Director-General Patrick Wanjuki said in the letter on May 19.

In addition, provide justification of what necessitated the issuance of each of the six addenda issued, Mr Wanjuki said.

“Further we reviewed the Public Procurement Information Portal (PPIP) and noted that your procuring entity did not place or upload the tender notice and tender document on the PPIP as required under section 96(1) to (3) of the Act as read together with regulations 85(2) of the regulations and the PPRA circular.

Mr Kabugi faulted the process saying the criteria was allegedly opened up to include local meter assemblers and not manufacturers through six addenda, a fact which he says substantially changed the original tender document and the eligibility criteria.

“In addition, the awarded amounts surpassed the allocated budget and the excess amounts were never approved by the board of directors and neither was the procurement plan amended to accommodate the excess amounts which is a breach of Section 53(2 & 8) of the Act,” Mr Kabugi said.

Mr Kabugi said all procurement deals must be within approved budgets. He further claimed that the electricity distributor issued 6 unlawful addenda in one tender, which was meant to loosen the conditions of the tender to accommodate some companies and lock out others.

The utility was embroiled in court battles with local firms last year over a Sh2 billion tender for the supply of single-phase, three-phase postpaid and prepaid meters.

It defended the decision to restrict the tender to global firms saying there has been a massive failure of locally assembled meters.

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