Nairobi — The process of registering voters ahead of the next general elections is facing undue delay after the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) declined to award the tender for the Biometric Voter Registration kits to the lowest evaluated bidder.
The evaluation committee had recommended 4G Identity Solution Pvt Limited in time for voter registration to start this month but the process hangs in the balance following intrigues within the commission over the Sh3.9 billion tender.
A statement from the Commission's Chief Executive officer James Oswago said that an Independent team had been appointed to undertake due diligence on the next lowest evaluated bidder, Africa Symphony, as per the provision of Regulation 52(2) of the Public Procurement and Disposal Regulations, 2006.
"The tender committee, having considered all pertinent documents, including the results of the due diligence on the lowest evaluated bidder, that is 4G Identity Solution Pvt. Limited, has decided not to award the tender for the Biometric Voter Registration kits to the lowest evaluated bidder, that is 4G Identity Solution Pvt Limited, as recommended by the evaluation committee," read the statement from Oswago.
The new tender team chaired by Immaculate Kassait met the evaluation committee on Wednesday but they also failed to reach consensus on the way forward.
The IEBC has been at the centre of the controversy after the former committee decided to award the tender to a company that had quoted a price above IEBC budget, and which was ranked third of four companies shortlisted.
The row over the purchase of the 9,750 Biometric Voter Registration kits has sent fresh fears of delays in the electoral process, with the IEBC bosses admitting registration of voters, which was to take off in mid-next month will now be pushed to early September due to the imminent delay in acquisition of the kit.
The Public Procurement Oversight Authority (PPOA) has also questioned the manner the tendering process was undertaken.
PPOA Director-General Maurice Juma is reported to have written to Oswago questioning why the tender committee resigned.
Earlier on Thursday, the European Union Ambassador called for the speedy resolution of the tendering row at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, which could threaten preparations towards next March general election.
"We hope that they (IEBC) are doing their to resolve the issue best to save the process, we have very strict rules in terms of procurement in the EU member states and it will be a pity if the decision is further postponed," he said.
"Frankly, the IEBC has done very well looking at the way they handled the boundary issue, but we need a speedy resolution to this one," he added.
Speaking after a two-hour meeting with National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende, EU Head of Delegation to Kenya Lodewijk Briet hailed the setting up of a new tender board to resolve the crisis over the Sh3.9 billion voter registration kits contract.
IEBC plans to register 18 million voters electronically and has already advertised for the recruitment of 2,900 clerks.