Murkomen reveals how men grab tenders meant for women

Tuesday, August 15th, 2023 06:30 | By
Transport CS Kipchumba Murkomen
Transport CS Kipchumba Murkomen. PHOTO/John Ochieng

Details have emerged on how undeserving men are applying for government contracts under the Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (Agpo) programme by establishing companies disguised as women-owned to dupe officials.

Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen yesterday recounted how he almost fell prey to such a trick when a contractor tried to bid for a construction contract in his ministry.

“The other day, somebody came to my office and asked for my support. He said I have a company and I want to do a construction contract. He told me that his company fits the Agpo terms. I asked him, but you are over 50 years and you are a man and you don’t fit for Agpo. He said don’t worry, in my company, my sister is the director. I asked him, so what does your sister do and he said that she is studying abroad,” Murkomen said.

Murkomen has now ordered all Director Generals serving in agencies domiciled under the Roads and Transport Ministry to conduct a thorough vetting of directors of companies before awarding contracts to establish the gender of the directors.

“In law, we say you must lift the veil. We must not only just award contracts on paper, we must also interact with the contractors and know who they are. I direct all the DGs to ensure that all the contractors who are given work, you can see the face of the people,” the CS said.

“My ministry must give contracts to women who are women. We know that there are men who have registered companies as women companies.”

Agpo programme aims to facilitate the youth, women and persons with disabilities owned enterprises to access 30 per cent of the government contracts as part of affirmative action.

In addition, Murkomen directed ministry officials to ensure that women companies are awarded contracts for big projects in the construction sector.

“When women are bidding for work, there is this attitude that the vichorochoro (back streets) are given to a woman company while the most important and visible roads should be given to a man. Also make it possible for women to do the real work of constructing bridges and roads and to maintain them, not just to supply tissue paper, pens and stationery,” he said.

While addressing the Women in Construction forum, Murkomen revealed how his ministry is affected by gender disparity in all agencies adding that women who are  qualified as engineers will be promoted to take up more critical leadership positions.

“I was embarrassed after joining the ministry when I realized that it is not just the DGs, the top management of this ministry is male-dominated,” he said.

Sexual harassment

During the meeting attended by women professionals in the construction sector, Murkomen urged institutions to enact relevant legislations to make workplaces conducive for female workers adding that despite women being the majority in the population, only three per cent of the workers in the sector are women.

“Institutions of the construction sector must establish a good working environment which includes mothers’ rooms within their premises to provide a private, hygienic and fully equipped space for breastfeeding. Women also go through pressure to be promoted at workplaces and it has to be made possible for them to report cases of sexual harassment in the workplace,” the CS said.

Murkomen said the Kenya Kwanza administration had adopted a gender streaming policy to ensure issues like gender-based discrimination and gender-based specific needs are addressed, adding that the policy, calls for adherence to one-third gender rule in the human resource recruitment which should reflect across all cadres of government.

Speaking during the forum Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Development Principal Secretary Susan Mange’ni said the building and construction sector is a key priority value chain for Kenya Kwanza administration based on its potential to create jobs, generate revenue and champion industrialisation.

“In this sector, the greatest barrier has been financing. Through the various commitment by the government, we are going to avail specific financing programmes targeting the construction sector. For the female youth, we have a financing programme under the Youth Enterprise fund which has been re-engineered for you to borrow up to Sh5 million to be able to deliver your tenders. For any woman, we have financing under KIE (Kenya Industrial Estates) to support you, to a tune of about Sh20 million,” Mang’eni said.

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