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Economy

Kebs legal advisor joins calls to halt hiring of foreign inspector

scientist at Kenya Bureau of Standards
A scientist at Kenya Bureau of Standards complex in Mombasa. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

A legal advisor for the Kenya Bureau of Standard (Kebs) has joined the voices asking the quality regulator to put on hold its plan to hire an additional foreign goods inspector, saying the move could expose taxpayers to huge losses.

Instead, Iseme Kamau and Maema Advocates say the existing pre-export verification of conformity (PVoC) contract with a Japanese agent should be allowed to run its term without interference. “The term of the existing contract remains as contracted unless validly and legally terminated as provided in the contract and applicable law,” Iseme Kamau and Maema law firm said in a legal opinion to Kebs.

The quality regulator contracted the law firm to provide a legal opinion on procurement of additional PVOC partners for goods and motor vehicles.

On April 3, 2018, Kebs hired Japanese firm, Quality Inspection Services Inc to provide a PVoC service on used motor vehicles, mobile equipment and used spare parts in Japan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Thailand and South Africa. The contract is set to expire in April next year but Kebs has tendered for additional partners to supplement the existing contract.

The legal opinion was tabled before the National Assembly’s Public Investment Committee (PIC) which is investigating the proposed issuance of a new tender before the existing one expires.

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A special audit by former Auditor-General Edward Ouko on the procurement of PVOC accused Kebs of allowing M/s Autoterminal Japan Limited and EAA Company Limited to provide falsified documentation or misrepresented themselves during the first tender.

The existing contract required pre-export verification from jurisdictions across the world to be undertaken by one contractor, a task that has proven onerous and not in public interest.

Kebs has argued that issuance of additional partners contract will reduce the risk of relying on one partner and the likely exposure in the event of disputes or other challenges involving performance by the existing contractor.

The committee, chaired by Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir has directed Kebs to stop the procurement process for additional partners pending the conclusion of its investigations.

“We note that the existing contract is silent on exclusivity of the contract with the contracted partner.

“Any other contract involving a public entity within the meaning of the Public Procurement and Disposal Act would validly entitle the procuring entity to engage other providers,” the law firm said.

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