Legislators link Wanjigi to Sh17b airport tender

Thursday, September 9th, 2021 00:00 | By
Director General Kenya Airport Authority Alex Gitari when he appeared before the Public Investments Committee over the controversial Greenfield airport project on Monday. Photo/PD/GERALD ITHANA

Legislators allied to ODM leader Raila Odinga have linked businessman Jimi Wanjigi to a controversial multi-billion-shilling airport project.

The MPs led by Ruaraka’s Tom Kajwang’, Embakasi East’s Babu Owino and Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir claimed a company which is claiming Sh17.6 billion compensation for the cancellation of the Greenfield airport project belongs to Wanjigi.

At a meeting between the National Assembly’s Public Investments Committee (PIC) and the Transport ministry officials, Transport PS Solomon Kitungu was hard pressed to confirm the directors of ACEG-CATIC JV included Wanjigi and some Chinese nationals.

Due diligence

Kajwang’ told the PS the committee had done due diligence and confirmed that Wanjigi was one of the directors, adding that the ministry officials and the Kenya Airport Authority (KAA) board should be put under oath to confirm they were doing business with Wanjigi.

The company had been paid Sh4.2 billion as commitment fee before the government cancelled the lucrative tender.

“Can you confirm to this committee that one of the directors of the firm in question is Wanjigi?” asked Kajwang’.

Owino claimed Wanjigi was using the proceeds of the airport deal to launch his presidential bid.

“Wanjigi is indeed using tax payers’ money to contest, he should be made to refund our money.” 

Wanjigi has declared his candidature for the ODM presidential ticket, setting the stage for a major political duel with Raila, who is perceived as the party’s automatic presidential flag bearer.

Responding to Kajwang’ and Owino’s claims, Nassir who chairs the committee directed that Wanjigi be summoned to appear before them to defend himself.

MPs Rahab Mukami (Nyeri Woman Rep) and Mathias Robi (Kuria West) also called on the directors of the company to be summoned.

Kitungu shocked the committee when he confirmed the government was in negotiations with the contractor with a view to recover the Sh4.2 billion paid. He, however, said the company in question is owned by Chinese.

“We have not done due diligence on this matter, but what I can tell you for now is the company is owned by Chinese nationals,” Kitungu said.

An irritated Kajwang’ told off KAA for negotiating with the company over a matter where public money was lost.

“These people you are negotiating with should be in Kamiti Maximum Prison.

I feel like resigning from this committee if we sit here to defend criminals,” Kajwang’ said.

He said it was sad that no attempts had been made to charge any official involved in the failed tendering process.

Nassir said the committee will not watch as “crooks” are paid billions of shillings belonging to the taxpayer.

“We fail to understand as people’s representatives why you are re-negotiating with people who have taken our money,” he asked.

Kajwang wondered why the ministry and KAA were enthusiastic in negotiating with “con men” on how to pay the Sh17.6 billion.  

 KAA is planning to revive the controversy-ridden Sh56 billion Greenfield Terminal project that was stopped four years ago.  

The  Sh7.6 billion demand note from the contractor, Catic JV Construction Company, has since moved to court. 

Ambitious project

The ambitious project at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), is currently on halt; ending Kenya’s dream of having the largest terminal in the continent.  

The decision was based on prevailing operational, economic and financial dynamics, which have been on a downward during the period.

Yesterday, the committee  heard that KAA was in the process of renegotiating with the contractor to plan the resumption of the construction works.

 Alex Gitari, KAA managing director, told the  committee last week that plans were afoot to revive the project and that his office had entered into negotiations with the contractor to see how the Sh17.6 billion would be settled.

 “A team has been formed to engage the contractor in negotiations on how the matter should be settled,” Gitari said when he appeared before the parliamentary committee.

 Gitari was, however, put to task to explain the position of Sh4.2 billion paid to the contractor as commitment fee.

More on News