Mandera’s Sh3.2 billion road deal rocked by fraud claims

The ongoing tarmacking of the Sh3.2 billion
The ongoing tarmacking of the Sh3.2 billion Mandera Fino Road could stall amid allegations of diversion of funds paid to the contractor. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The ongoing tarmacking of the Sh3.2 billion Mandera Fino Road could stall amid allegations of diversion of funds paid to the contractor.

The Commission for Human Rights and Justice (CHRJ) has accused the contractor, County Builders Limited, of diverting Sh244 million advance payments to other projects.

The commission in a suit filed at the Milimani Law Courts is seeking orders restraining the Kenya Rural Roads Authority (Kerra) from releasing any more cash for the project.

“That the respondent be restrained by an order of this honourable court from releasing any further sum to the 1st respondent against the tender pending hearing and determination of this petition,” reads one of the orders sought by the agency.

It has listed County Builders Limited, Kerra, and the Public Procurement Oversight Authority as respondents.

Justice Eric Mwita on August 30 directed the CHRJ to serve all respondents to the case.

The human rights agency claims that the firm has applied for release of further funds yet the project has stalled due to insecurity, which it notes if not stopped is a waste of public resources that would be impractical to recover.

The firm was awarded the tender to upgrade the road by Kerra on May 23, 2018.

The letter of award indicates that Sh2.4 billion was to be spent on upgrading of the road to bitumen standards while Sh772 million was for routine maintenance.

The County Builders Limited director Abdullahi Adan Khalif wrote back on June 13 accepting the award.

According to court documents, the advance cash was released by the Authority after it received a guarantee from Credit Bank.

But the petitioner has taken issue with the guarantee, noting that it does not cover a situation where the funds are used on purposes other than the performing of the project, noting it must be unconditional.

CHRJ is questioning the payment to the contractor when it had already notified Kerra that it had suspended the project due to insecurity, but still applied for the advance payments.

Kerra is also accused of failing to notify other bidders of the outcome of the bidding process yet the contract has already been awarded.

CHRJ claims the whole process is shrouded in secrecy, noting that the capacity of the contractor is in doubt.

“The organization has carried investigations which investigations have revealed that the tender and the award of the tender to 1st respondents’ as issued by 2nd respondent (Kerra) was irregular and corrupt,” says the petitioner in the documents filed on August 29.