Kenya: Kingi Fights Off COVID-19 Medical Complex Graft Claims

Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi has dismissed reports that the county government bought intensive care unit (ICU) beds for the newly opened Covid-19 medical complex at Sh1.6 million each.

Mr Kingi said that so far, no money has been paid for the procurement of beds for the medical complex whose first phase was converted into a Covid-19 treatment centre.

"No money has been paid and we will not pay Sh1.6 million per ICU bed. Kilifi County government will be guided by the law and more particularly Section 103(2)(e) of the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, 2015 when it comes to prices of commodities and equipment. Any county officer breaching this cardinal rule will have himself to blame," he said.

OFFICIALS ARRESTED

Early this month, officers from the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) arrested three senior Kilifi County officials for failure to provide documentation on the Covid-19 medical complex among. EACC also sought to know the source of funding for the project.

The officials were County Secretary Arnold Mkare, Chief Officer of Medical Services Bilala Mazoya and his Public Health counterpart Adan Ibrahim Alio.

The arrests were later followed by a confrontation between the county government and EACC after the county Health Executive Anisa Omar accused the anti-corruption agency of breaching the Covid-19 protocol during arrest.

She later directed the compulsory 14-day quarantine of the EACC officer, the police officers who executed the arrest and the county officials.

Last week, EACC CEO Twalib Mbarak said that they suspect the construction cost of the medical complex was varied by more than 25 per cent in violation of procurement regulations.

HOSPITAL PROBED

Mr Mbarak further said the that the commission is investigating the hospital and the equipment supplied to establish whether there was value for money following reports that ICU beds were bought at Sh1.6 million each.

But Mr Kingi said that he suspects malice and witch hunt because they have not had any complaint over the procurement of the Kilifi Medical Complex project since construction begun in 2017.

"Surprisingly, it was after the colourful and much publicised launching of this temporary Covid-19 unit that hell broke loose," he said.

"Immediately after the launch, four EACC Officers hand delivered a letter to the county government offices saying they were investigating allegations of irregular procurement on the complex and that they immediately wanted the files and wouldn't leave the county offices without the documents."

Mr Kingi said due to the bulkiness of the documents, the county government confirmed that it would fully comply with the request by EACC as long as reasonable time was given as provided for under Section 27(3) of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act.

'CHOREOGRAPHED OPERATION'

"Unfortunately the EACC officers would hear none of this. They left the county offices angered. The following morning, a battalion of EACC officers from Kilifi and Mombasa counties accompanied by the media, in what seemed to be a well-planned and choreographed operation, descended upon some county government officers, roughed them up and arrested them," he said.

The governor said the project is in two phases and after the completion of the first phase, they decided to convert the building to a Covid-19 isolation facility following the outbreak of the pandemic.

Mr Kingi also wondered what was so urgent about the issue that the EACC decided to breach the law on access to information by failing to give them notice and time to file the documents.

"We are also required to prepare an inventory which the EACC officers are supposed to sign against indicating the documents taken into their custody," he said.

"Where were they all along since 2017 when procurement was done? The project itself is incomplete and we have never had any problem with the DCI and EACC who had earlier requested for the documents as per the law."

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