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Top KPLC Official, Politically Connected Cartels Linked To Multibillion Smart Meter Tender Scandal

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A complaint by a businessman to the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority(PPRA) has brought to light the behind scenes of the multibillion tendering of the smart meters.

Benedict Kabugi Ndungu alleges that the awarding of the tender to four companies for the supply of smart meters was marred with irregularities.

According to the complaint, the tender document issued to interested bidders upon the advertising of the tender, the conditions of tender and the eligibility criteria were initially only for local manufacturing firms.

However, the businessman says all this was substantially, unlawfully and irregularly changed by Kenya Power and Lighting Company Limited who subsequently issued a flurry of irregular Addendum’s and specifically six addendum’s in total in an attempt to custom make the tender for a few preferred bidders who were in collusion with KPLC Senior staff members.

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He says in documents seen by Kenya Insights that tenders eligibility criteria was opened up to include local assemblers of meters and not manufacturers via the six addendum’s a fact which substantially changed the original tender document and the eligibility criteria.

”All this was done in a conspiracy meant to make sure that the qualification criteria fits the qualifications of particular bidders. These conspiracy was hatched and executed by a criminal enterprise comprising of corrupt KPLC members of staff led by Dr. John Ngeno, the General Manager, Supply Chain & Logistics in cohorts with his preferred bidders.” The complaint reads.

Ng’eno joined the power utility after being transferred unceremoniously from Kenya Bureau of Standards (KBS) where he tainted his name by flaunting insurance tender. He was also implicated in a tender dispute over cars inspections where the DCI had made recommendations for him to be charged but has never been arrested.

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He says the tender’s eligibility criteria were opened up to include local assemblers of meters and not manufacturers. “In furtherance of this blatant criminal scheme, and again to please their partners in crime, the tender items were split into Six Lots each Lot comprising five items with initial quantities but through the Six Addendum’s, the items per lot were reduced to four (4) items with increased quantities than the quantities which were initially provided at the time of the first advertisement.” It reads.

He claims this was a well established scheme by cartels to defraud the public. “The processing of this subject tender is nothing more than a scheme to defraud Kenyan taxpayers through a well calculated conspiracy to defraud and collusion with politically connected individuals.” It reads.

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The four companies that were awarded the tender according to documents seen by Kenya Insights include: M/s Inhemeter Africa Company Ltd for Ksh 5,457,227,975 ( firm is linked to William Kabinga Gatheca, M/s Smart Meter Technology Ltd for Ksh 4,655,935,500 (linked to Sam Mburu, husband to Nakuru Governor Susan Kihika), Yocean Group Limited for Ksh 5,481,096,564.20 , and M/s Magnate Ventures Ltd (linked to Stanley Kinyanjui and his brother) for Ksh 5,437,930,052 Including 16%.

William Kabinga Gatheca, the owner of inhemeter Africa Company.

Mr. Kabugi says that the companies are unqualified alluding that they are not manufacturers of meters but are tender entrepreneurs and/or assemblers of meters owned by politically well- connected Kenyans which information is in the public domain.

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He avers that KPLC violated the procurement laws as section 155 of the Public Procurement and Assets Disposal Act prescribes that preference should only be offered to manufacturers and not assemblers and to companies where Kenyan citizens are shareholders.

“For a company that has been procuring meters for decades, the issuing of six unlawful addendum’s by KPLC in one tender is not only a big red flag that the processing of these tender is fishy but also an indicator that it was meant to loosen the conditions of the tender to accommodate these companies and lock out others while also playing around with the quantities to make the tender lucrative.” the complaint reads.

Sam Mburu (far right) at a function in Statehouse with president Ruto.

Mr Kabugi said the criteria was allegedly opened up to include local meter assemblers and not manufacturers through six addenda, a fact which he says substantially changed the original tender document and the eligibility criteria.

Mr. Kabugi claims the tender was bloated, “the awarded amounts surpassed the allocated budget and the excess amounts were never approved by the Board of Directors and neither was the procurement plan amended to accommodate the excess amounts which is a breach of Section 53(2 & 8) of the Act which requires that all procurement transactions must be within approved budgets and that the Accounting Officer shall not commence procurement transactions until it is ascertained that funds have been allocated for the transaction.”

He has forwarded the information to the DCI, ODPP and EACC requesting that a thorough investigation into the matter be done and action taken against those involved in what he terms as ‘daylight theft’ be prosecuted.

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