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Bullet proof’ Prisons gear under fire

Opiyo Wandayi
The National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman Opiyo Wandayi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Prisons Department has been put to task over the procurement of bullet proof jackets and vests worth Sh43.2 million without ballistic panels to protect officers against rifle fire and pointed instruments.

The National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) demanded to know how the department procured bullet proof jackets costing Sh22,275,000 and vests at Sh20,998, 500 which could not withstand bullet penetration from high calibre weapons.

The committee, chaired by Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi, took Correctional Services principal secretary Zainab Hussein to task and demanded to know how taxpayer’s money was spent on protective gear “that could not even stop a knife stab.”

“These are jackets and vests that the auditor says cannot withstand bullet penetration from high calibre weapons or even a sharp or pointed object. Can you help us understand how it was procured and who procured it,” Mr Wandayi asked Ms Hussein during scrutiny of books of accounts for the State department of Correctional Services for the year to June 2018.

Auditor-General Edward Ouko had raised the red flag over the procurement of the gear that he said cannot even protect warders against a knife stab.

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Mr Ouko said 600 body armour jackets were delivered without the ballistic plates that offer protection against bullets.

The audit shows that 300 bullet-proof jackets were procured at a cost of Sh22,275,000 and another 300 at a price of Sh20,998,000.

Mr Ouko said an audit inspection later revealed that the body armour do not have ballistic panels and cannot be used to protect staff against rifle fire, ammunition, knife stab and sharp or pointed instruments.

The auditor concluded that the department had not obtained value for money in respect of expenditure worth Sh43,272,500 as required under Section 68(1)(b) of the Public Finance Management Act, 2012.

On Tuesday, Ms Hussein told PAC that the items were procured but did not include the ballistic panels to protect against rifle fire and pointed instruments. “Purchases were for use on a pilot basis and training and not for combat purpose in Prisons Staff Training College (PSTC) and a few selected Maximum Security Prisons,” Ms Hussein said.

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