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Economy

Taxpayers risk losing Sh3.84bn in KNH project

Michael Macharia
Seven Seas Technologies CEO Michael Macharia when he appeared before the Senate on November 18, 2019. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA 

The Health ministry is on the spot for a stalled hospital data centre project under a contract in which the taxpayer risks losing billions of shillings.

The Sh4.8 billion was awarded to Seven Seas Technologies in October, 2017, to link 121 hospitals with Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) to help track patients seeking specialised treatment. The central hospital registry was also meant to track pharmacy and laboratory information from all the hospitals.

The Senate heard Monday that the ministry not only barred Seven Seas Technologies from putting up the facility “until KNH inspects it”, but also failed to provide a letter of support that a local bank required to release Sh1.8 billion for project costs.

Under the contract, taxpayers stand to lose Sh3.84 billion or 80 percent of the total contract value as compensation to Seven Seas Technologies should the State terminate the deal.

The data centre is part of a project where the State has contracted five firms to lease theatre equipment, renal kits, ICU equipment and radiology kit to counties for ailments such as cancer and diabetes.

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“This is to inform you not to proceed with any installation of any ICT accessories, equipment or network data cables at KNH and other facilities without inspection by the MESIC team and KNH Hospital implementation committee,” Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache said in the letter seen by Business Daily.

“The ministry has sought some clarifications from the Attorney- General, in regard to the contract, it is therefore prudent that you wait for further communication from this office,” added the letter.

Appearing before the Senate committee probing the programme, Seven Seas chief executive officer Antony Macharia said they were at a cross-roads, with equipment worth over Sh250 million meant for the data centre lying at the port of Mombasa since January, last year.

“I get the feeling that we are on our own but we have invested Sh650 million in the project. It looks like the ministry has moved on. The buck stops with the person who heads the ministry, Cabinet Secretary Kariuki and the PS,” Mr Macharia told Senators.

This is the latest twist in the project that started in 2015 as a majority of the specialised medical equipment lie idle at the hospitals on lack of electricity and water.

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