The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: PIC Summons Kimunya, Kinyua Over Rail Deal

Photo: Wikipedia
The National Assembly Committee on Transport, Public Works and Housing has summoned government officials on the controversial Standard Gauge Railway tender (file photo).

The truth behind the controversial Sh1.3 standard gauge railway line tender will be known soon as the Public Investments Committee of the National Assembly committee promises thorough investigations on the deal between the Kenyan government and a Chinese firm.

The committee has lined up a number of witnesses behind the project that was gifted to China Road and Bridges Corporation, a Chinese state owned company. It runs from Mombasa- Nairobi and Busia and was expected to be completed by 2018.

Though Kenya's debt ceiling is pegged at Sh1.1 trillion or not more than 50 percent of her GDP, it will require Finance Minister Henry Rotich to prepare a Bill that must be passed by the House to expand the current limit before committing the government to the loan agreement.

But MPs have vowed to defeat the move to finance the project that was commissioned by President Uhuru Kenyatta in November last year.

The core areas of the probe by PIC will be the costing, the process of procurement- whether there was due diligence and the capacity of the firm awarded the tender among others.

The witnesses are likely to appear before the committee after the 15th of this month when House committees resume business following their suspension by House Speaker Justin Muturi in December last year.

Key among the witnesses is the former Kenya Railways Corporation Managing Director Nduva Muli, the current Transport Principal Secretary who oversaw the deal rise from Sh220 billion when the tender was awarded in July 2012 to the current Sh1.3 trillion. Transport cabinet secretary Michael Kamau who has defended the deal saying it was above board, is also expected be a key witness.

Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter has been vocal against how the tender was procured and the money involved, will also appear before the committee.

Also included in the list is former Finance Minister Robinson Githae, his then PS now the Chief of Staff and Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua, former Transport minister Amos Kimunya and his then PS Cyrus Njiru.

The others are Attorney General Githu Muigai, Investment Secretary Esther Koimett and Public Procurement Oversight Authority director general Maurice Juma.

The probe by the PIC is in line with the speaker's directive late last year that the committee investigates the matter and tables its report within three weeks.

However, the House went on recess before the three weeks were over. By this time the committee had already constituted a technical team of researchers, financial experts, lawyers, engineers, auditors and procurement experts among others to aid in the probe.

The committee is seized of the matter on the account of the standing order 206 that mandates it to examine the viability or worthwhile in the efficiency of the public investments.

PIC chairman Adan Keynan confirmed on phone yesterday that the witnesses will be invited and that the committee will have its report ready before or by the time the House resumes its session on the 11th of next month after the long Christmas break.

The Eldas MP who is also known for his previous thorough leadership, said that his committee has done enough ground work and the witnesses will be required to answer questions prepared by the team of experts assisting the committee investigate the matter.

"The House adjourned before the three week directive by the speaker was over. However, our technical team has covered enough ground that involves sets of questions the witnesses will be required to answer," Keynan said on phone.

"The committee promises an in depth inquiry into the matter because the public expectation requires that we remain above board in our oversight role as the House committee. We have so far received the required cooperation from the players," he said.

Keynan's committee conducted successful inquiries into the decline of the Kenyan currency and the irregular acquisition of the Kenyan embassy land in Japan that has seen former Foreign Affairs PS Thuita Mwangi arraigned in court over corruption charges.

The committee's special Report on the contract between the National Cereals and Produce Board and M/s Erad Supplies and General Contract Limited for the supply of maize, was adopted by the House in November last year.He said those with any vital information on the tender to avail the information to the office of the clerk of the National Assembly.

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InFocus

Kenya's Unfolding Railway Saga

The National Assembly Committee on Transport, Public Works and Housing has summoned government officials on the controversial Standard Gauge Railway tender (file photo).

The National Assembly Committee on Transport, Public Works and Housing has summoned senior government officials over the controversial Standard Gauge Railway tender. Read more »