Punish people behind mess in MES project

Tuesday, September 15th, 2020 00:00 | By
Health PS Susan Mochache and foreign affairs CAS Ababu Namwamba received COVID19 response commodities worth KSh 110M from Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Wu Peng on behalf of government of the People's Republic of China, at the KEMSA Embakasi Warehouse. Photo/File

As Kenyans grapple with the soaring public debt that has hit Sh6 trillion on the back of the Covid-19 shocks, the last thing that should cross the minds of taxpayers is that funds have been stolen.

Unfortunately, the Ministry of Health has been on the spot for alleged loss of funds for support programmes meant to combat diseases in Kenya as lenders complain about mounting corruption in procurement processes.

For Kenyans, this is double tragedy. While the much needed funds will stop coming leading to more suffering, it seems they will also lose cash already in the system to cartels and management lapses that seem to make it easy to siphon funds.

Otherwise considered the lifeline of the health sector, institutions such as the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority and the Managed Equipment Services (MES) project have let the country down due to weak systems.

A critical look at Senate revelations that supply of various medical goods and services were given to firms that were for some reason unqualified for the job points to a worrying trend in the country’s public procurement system.

Considered an important vehicle that enables the country to outsource supplies, train and provide services for specialised medical equipment, it is unforgivable that MES could be used to favour a few individuals during this critical period.

That is why the anti-graft authority must quickly start investigations to establish circumstances that led the Ministry of Health to award tenders based on reckless decisions.

Questions abound how a project, which was mooted under the Public Private Partnership concept endorsed by Parliament, quickly changed into a public procurement affair, in the  process pushing up the cost of the initiative by billions.

It’s also worrying and criminal, that a Public Sector Comparator (PSC) developed by some financial consultants and advisors formed the basis for awarding tenders under the MES project.

The question is why prices quoted by MES bidders but were lower than the PSC, were deemed responsive and indicative of a positive value for money, while those who quoted prices that were higher than the PSC were considered unresponsive.

One will forgive Kenyans for concluding that the tool used to ensure value for money was manipulated to justify the vastly inflated cost figures for MES equipment.

That is why heads must start rolling and culprits paraded in court if only to deter future recklessness.

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