Capital FM (Nairobi)

30 April 2014

Kenya: PIC Okays Rail Project, Wants Kimunya Prosecuted

Nairobi — The Public Investment Committee (PIC) on Wednesday cleared construction of the Standard Gauge Railway from Mombasa to Nairobi, but at the same time called for former Transport Minister Amos Kimunya to be prosecuted for contempt.

In its report on the SGR project tabled by PIC chairman Adan Keynan, the committee recommends that the government fast tracks the preliminary plans for phase two of the project.

The parliamentary watchdog found nothing irregular and cleared the railway development.

"From the evidence adduced by the Auditor General, Attorney General, Cabinet Secretary to the National Treasury and the Transport CS, the project has so far been procured within the law and the government would not incur any losses."

The controversial multi-billion project, procurement and costing were opposed, with claims public procurement regulations were not observed in the award of tender to the China Road and Bridges Company (CRBC).

The committee chaired by Keynan urged the Government to proceed with the works and start the feasibility study, preliminary designs and costing for phase two to Malaba, with a branch line to Kisumu.

"The project should proceed taking into consideration the observations and recommendations by the committee and review of the project to ensure value for money since as of now there are no contractual/financing obligations on the part of the government until a financing agreement is signed," PIC observed.

The committee arrived at a similar finding to the one returned by the Transport Committee chaired by Starehe MP Maina Kamanda, which also cleared the project.

The two committees undertook the probe concurrently, inviting the same State officers to give evidence, prompting complaints even among some legislators that it amounted to a waste of public funds for members of two committees to draw allowances probing the same project.

The Public Investments Committee however recommended that Kimunya face prosecution for contempt he showed when he appeared before the MPs during a sitting held in February.

Kimunya who had been summoned to respond to questions concerning the SGR project was declared a hostile witness and ejected from the committee sitting after he accused the members of impartiality.

The former minister said the committee should seek expert opinion on the matter and not assume they know everything about the mega project.

PIC has further asked the Criminal Investigation Department to investigate how the China Road and Bridge Company Kenya Limited file went missing from the Registrar of Companies, its activities and operations and the circumstances under which two companies with the same name were registered.

The Kenyan company whose name is similar to the State-owned China Road and Bridge Corporation, the firm handling the project, caused confusion during the House team's sitting and they recommend that it be de-registered.

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