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Senate: Medical kits leasing plan scam of all time

By Hillary Mageka
Thursday, October 17th, 2019
Council of Governors chair Wycliffe Oparanya. Photo/PD/FILE
In summary

The Senate has now termed the controversial Managed Equipment Services (MES) initiative as “a scandal of all time” following damning revelations by the Council of Governors (CoG). 

The description came as governors disclosed that President Uhuru Kenyatta’s promise to form a task force to probe the Sh63 billion MES programme is yet to be implemented.

Appearing before the Senate ad hoc committee on Managed Equipment Services yesterday, CoG chairman Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega Governor) said the 47 counties never requested for the MES project and if they did, the Ministry of Health should have first supplied adequate information before the devolved units committed to the project.

Oparanya said while permitting the programme, the ministry said the type of equipment prioritised under the MES project was informed by a needs assessment conducted in March 2014 without the involvement of any of the 47 county governments.

Voice concerns

“There were five meetings in 2014 to discuss these issues and we (CoG) resolved that we had nothing to do with it. Memoranda of understanding (MoU) came after the project had started,” he said.

“We were not involved in the entire conceptualisation of the programme. We were brought on board when the project was ongoing. We were involved as a council for coordination purposes to ensure the CECs attended the meetings,” he said.

The committee chaired by Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dullo and deputised by Moses Wetang’ula (Bungoma) is probing the award and lease agreements for the managed specialised medical equipment in the 47 counties.

After variations in the cost of the MES scheme from Sh95 million to  Sh200 per annum, Oparanya said the CoG  voiced its concerns to  President Uhuru Kenyatta, who directed the Health ministry to form a task force to investigate the issues raised by the county chiefs.

Oparanya and his Laikipia counterpart Ndiritu Muriithi said to date the probe team is yet to be formed by the Health ministry as directed by the President. 

“We raised this issue in the last summit, and the President said he will form a committee to investigate the matter and it was to be convened by the Ministry of Health,” said the Kakamega Governor.

“The Health Cabinet Secretary was given the mandate to constitute the team, but it has not seen the light of the day,” Oparanya said in response to a query raised by Wetang’ula.

“But also, I agree, that this is a scandal but I don’t know to what extent,” the Kakamega governor added.

Do business

Wetang’ula had sought to know from the council if the President’s instructions were followed.

“What is before us is general feeling supported by the fact that somebody or some people sitting at the Ministry of Health headquarters connived to do business using counties as the conduit,” said the Senator.

“CoG you have a secretariat that analyses issues for you. It defeats any logic to think that the quantic needs of Lamu are the same as that of Nairobi. You did not raise any question,” he added.

“I see a conspiracy between governors and this authority that has imposed on you a programme,” said Nominated Senator Judith Pareno .

“They delivered without assessment of the counties; they vary (payment) from Sh95 million to Sh200 million and there is no question from the governors. Why should our governors whom we know are able to speak out about these things be quiet?” she asked.

In documents tabled before the committee, CoG said the procurement of MES on behalf of the counties was not done pursuit to the provisions of Article 187 neither did it respect the functional and institutional integrity of the counties under Article 189 (1) of the counties act.

Provide list

The county chiefs have now demanded, through the Senate, that the Health ministry provides original list of all equipment that each county was supposed to receive for the CoG to determine which devolved units received less than what they should have received.

The programme included the provision of CT Scan machines.

Governors also want names of companies and individuals behind the CT Scan machines procurement.

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