Not every Kenyan is cursing the arrival of Covid-19 disease.
For some lucky companies, the pandemic, which has given them a big break, is a blessing in disguise. Twelve firms, for instance, were awarded contracts worth Sh3 billion by the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) to deliver items that were not covered by the state agency’s 2019/20 approved budget as of June 4, 2020, with some multimillion-shilling irregular bids going to friends and well-connected individuals.
The Covid-19 pandemic also gave some government ministries and counties the perfect cover to break procurement laws, and order goods worth billions of shillings in bulk from little known companies and briefcase entities, some of which had no capacity to deliver.
Take the case of Ivy Minyow Onyango, whose story demonstrates how easily Kenya’s procurement system can be bent. On January 22, Ms. Onyango, barely 30 years old, walked into the companies registry. This was weeks before Africa reported its first coronavirus case. She registered Kilig Limited. Several weeks later, her company was handpicked and handed an Sh4 billion offer to supply hundreds of thousands of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs). Each kit was to be delivered at an inflated cost of Sh9,000, from the then market price of Sh4,500, according to revelations in Parliament.
A Kenya Airports Authority worker looks on as a consignment of medical equipment donated by Jack Ma and Alibaba Foundations is offloaded from a plane at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on March 24. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP
The complete kit includes N95 masks, bodysuits, goggles, waterproof shoe covers and gloves. She was to supply 450,000 of each item.
The fact that her company had no proof or record of ability to supply such a big tender on such short notice did not bother Kemsa executives, who are now under the radar of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.
On paper, at the company registry, Ms Onyango is the sole shareholder and director of the company, holding all the 1,000 shares.
All went well until something went wrong between her benefactors and top executives at Kemsa.
The deal would later leak to investigative agencies, but it was too late since the agency had already put pen to paper and the ink had dried.
Kemsa boss Jonah Manjari, would then quickly take a hasty retreat to cancel the deal after it became clear that Kilig had been given more than it could chew.
The Nation Investigations Desk has established that the actual beneficial owner of the company is a vocal Jubilee politician, who has made his billions by securing contracts from government agencies and selling them to companies in exchange for 10 percent cut.
We cannot name the politician, despite various confirmations by top executives at the drug agency, without running afoul with the defamation law, since his name and signature do not appear on any documentation.