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Counties

Governor James Ongwae in trouble for 'flouting' tender rules

Kisii Governor James Ongwae.
Kisii Governor James Ongwae. His government is fighting back claims of fraudulent procurement during the upgrade of street lighting last year. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

The Kisii County government is fighting back claims of fraudulent procurement during the upgrade of street lighting ahead of last year’s inter-counties games.

Governor James Ongwae has been accused of using faceless contractors to upgrade the town ahead of the games.

On Thursday, the case took a new twist after the county’s legal team told the court that no work had been done, contrary to the litigants’ claims. 

Kisii High Court Judge David Majanja had sought to know if the petitioners Mr Boniface Mangaa and Mr Vincent Mose had been given any documents relating to the demand notice they had served the respondents on May 26, 2018.

They duo had complained over the repair of various streets in Kisii town by the county government without following procurement procedure.

During the hearing, it emerged that the respondents did not give the petitioners any documents pertaining to the demand notice.

“Do you mean to say there was no work done yet there are pictures in this file showing the ongoing works? Can the county secretary swear an affidavit that there was no work done?” wondered Justice Majanja. The defendants had filed a preliminary objection dated July 10, 2018 which was dismissed.

The court said that an Act of Parliament was not superior to the requirement of the Constitution as stated in Article 35.

“Every citizen has the right of access to information held by the State; and information held by another person and required for the exercise or protection of any right or fundamental freedom,” reads the Constitution.

Roads

Also enjoined in the case are the county executive in charge of roads and Mr Ongwae’s chief officer, urban engineer, head of procurement and the county government.

The petitioners want Governor Ongwae, and all officers behind the alleged tendering scandal declared unfit to hold public office.

They also want the county government to reveal details of “faceless tenderpreneurs” who renovated a number of streets in Kisii town ahead of last year’s Kenya Inter County Sports and Cultural Association games.

They argue that none of the contractors had their identities revealed in signposts or adverts as required by law.

The streets which were repaired include the roads linking Kisii Police Station with Cooperative Bank branch, Victory Catholic Church and National Bank, Capital and Shivling Supermarket road and the Kisii Level Six Hospital and Falcon junction.

In their petition, Mr Mangaa and Mr Mose further contest the manner in which the tenders were issued. They say the county defied procurement laws.

According to the petitioners, no advertisements were made before the tenders were awarded. They had initially written to the county government demanding explanation regarding the tenders.

The hearing continues on March 12, 2019.

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