The anti-corruption commission is investigating a possible misappropriation of up to Sh6 billion through inflation of prices for goods and services relating to the Covid-19 pandemic by well connected individuals at the government medical supplies agenc.

On Tuesday, Ethics and Anti-Corruption  Commission (EACC) detectives raided the  Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa)  offices twice after Chief Executive Officer Jonah Manjari Mwangi failed to furnish them  with 15 sets of documents deemed key in an investigation involving several cases against  the agency.




Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists  Union (KMPDU) acting secretary general  Chibanzi Mwachonda reiterated yesterday  that healthcare workers were being supplied  with sub-standard face masks and Personal  Protective Equipment (PPEs) which have  been rejected by medics at the Kenyatta National Hospital because of defects.

Doctors and nurses at the facility are each  allocated 10 masks every week, according to  a health worker who sought anonymity for  fear of reprisals from her superiors. The procurement of the substandard  equipment is now being directly linked  to the rising cases of Covid-19 infections  among healthcare workers in Kenyan public hospitals.




“The union has voiced concern over sub- standard PPEs being used by health workers  in the country. Our concerns point out to the  possibility the PPEs could be contributing  to the increased infections among frontline  healthcare workers with the latest figures  showing that 93 of them have been infected,”  said Mwachonda.

Documents seen by the PD detail how Kemsa procured the equipment from a pool of suppliers who were handpicked by  the management without due diligence,  prompting Health Principal Secretary Susan  Mochache to intervene. The PS, in a letter dated May 22, and copied to Kemsa CEO Manjari, sought an audit  of the commodities procured by the authority under the Contingency Emergency Response component. “We are aware that procurements were  made on behalf of the Ministry of Health  relating to Covid-19 and have been marked  for payment using the World Bank funds.




We  are sending the internal audit team to visit  Kemsa from May 26 to May 29, and ascertain  the following: “Description of all items procured, including name and quantities, cost and procurement method used, dates when contracts  were signed, delivery schedules and verifica- tion of the procured items,” wrote Mochache.

The authority failed to produce any of the  documents apart from a list of companies  which supplied masks (N95) and PPEs, all  valued at Sh758.6 million. In his response to Mochache’s letter, Manjari wrote; “We confirm that we have issued  letters of commitment for procurement of  the items to suppliers worth Sh 58,690,583  as detailed in your letter.




The successful companies sup- plied masks at outrageous prices which could  not be explained and are now the subject of  investigation by the anti graft agency. For instance, while one firm, MEDS Limited, supplied N95 masks at a cost of Sh250,  Shil Trading and Logistics Ltd sold the same  at Sh900. Other companies including Biroyal  International Ltd and Encartar Diagnostics  Ltd sold theirs at Sh700 per piece. The same  type of masks cost between Sh350 and Sh450  in the local market.

Two firms, Tikasan Holdings Co Ltd and  Faram (EA) Ltd, supplied Kemsa with PPEs  at Sh9,500 per unit. The open market value is  Sh5,000 per unit. The EACC has also launched investiga- tions into claims of exaggeration of price of  items in the Local Purchase Order (LPOs) for  most products and corruption in the con- struction of a Sh3.2 billion warehouse for the  parastatal. The cost of the warehouse has since gone  up to Sh4.5 billion and EACC wants the man- agement to explain the variation in the cost. Treasury has in the Supplementary Bud- get 3 asked Parliament to allow it to spend  Sh262 million to pay for contractors for the  warehouse. The warehouse construction is  being funded by the Global Fund, Kemsa and  the government. It is expected to be custom made for medical supplies storage.




The anti-graft agency chief executive  Twalib Mbarak had on June 18, 2020 written  to Dr Manjari, seeking to have tender advertising notices, bank tender documents, all  bids submitted by the bidders, tender opening minutes, list of bidders and individual  tender evaluation score sheets. Detectives had also requested for due dili- gence reports, professional opinion, tender  award notifications and regrets, acceptance  letters from the winning bidders, contract  agreements, inspection and acceptance  certificates, payment vouchers and appoint- ment letters to committees. “This commission is conducting inves-tigations into allegations of procurement  irregularities at Kemsa in relation to tender  KEMSA/CONST/OIT4/2019/20.

To facilitate  our investigations, kindly furnish us with the  original documents relating to the above  tender,” Mbarak wrote. Dr Manjari, however, failed to furnish the  EACC with the documents, plus the conflict  of interest register maintained by the agency  since January 2018, prompting Tuesday’s  raid by detectives.




The investigators raided the offices of the  CEO, head of Legal and head of procurement  where they took away some documents. The  detectives, accompanied by armed police of- ficers, spent almost two hours with the CEO  at the offices in Industrial Area before leaving.

The EACC seeks to establish claims that  some staff at the agency were involved in a  conflict of interest where some senior man- agers have been doing business with the  entity. The graft agency has also received com- plaints that some staff collude with suppliers  to swindle public funds and that the organ- isation is technically insolvent because of  mismanagement.

In one of the cases cited, the Mission for  Essence Drugs (MEDS) supplied some products at a unit price of Sh298 yet the contract  has an agreed price of Sh207 per unit. Some suppliers have also claimed that  some staff openly solicit bribes and that in some cases, direct procurement is used to  award contracts to friendly suppliers, who  are willing to part with kickbacks.

The construction of the warehouse in  Embakasi is also being investigated by the  National Assembly. The agency is currently  using a leased warehouse and the construc- tion is expected to save the agency millions  of shillings in rent. The agency currently serves 371 hospitals,  4,415 rural health facilities and 5,047 sites  that offer rapid testing across Kenya.

It also offers procurement, warehousing and distribution services for medical com- modities for other clients such as USAid, the World Bank and the Global Fund. Before his appointment to KEMSA, Manjari was the Nakuru County minister for health.

Source credits: PD

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