KEMSA Scandal Opens Lid on Covid-19 Billions

Government vehicles pictured at the JKIA exit area.
Government vehicles pictured at the JKIA exit area.
Capital Group

Investigations into a graft scandal at the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) have lifted the lid on how Ksh223 billion received by the government from various international organizations for the Covid-19 response is being spent.

A red flag had been raised in July after it emerged that KEMSA was procuring Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs) at inflated prices of almost double the market price.

Now, as the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) undertakes investigations into the procurement processes that saw various companies awarded deals to supply PPEs in suspicious circumstances, itĀ emergedĀ that material donations were also not spared.

Of the donations which landed in Kenya including large consignments of masks and ventilators, part of the equipment was directed to private warehouses upon arrival in Nairobi.

Kenya Medical Supplies Agency CEO Jonah Manjari addresses the media at Sarova Panafric Hotel on April 15, 2019.
Kenya Medical Supplies Agency CEO Jonah Manjari addresses the media at Sarova Panafric Hotel on April 15, 2019.
Daily Nation

It was alleged that those behind the diversions have beneficial links to companies looking to secure various government supply deals.

At the same time, details emerged on how newly-registered companies secured lucrative tenders at KEMSA despite there being little proof that they were capable of fulfilling their obligations in the deal.

One such company that was registered on January 22, was awarded a Ksh4 billion tender weeks later to supply PPE kits.

Each kit was to be procured at a cost of Ksh9,000 which is double the market price of Ksh4, 500. The company was expected to supply hundreds of thousands of items including goggles, gloves, waterproof shoe covers and body suits.

The tender was, however, cancelled after the deal had been signed and sealed, as EACC started looking into the matter.

A total of 12 companies were awarded tenders worth Ksh3 Billion to supply items that were not covered in the KEMSA's budget as at June 4, 2020.

KEMSA CEO Jonah Manjari is the man at the eye of the storm over the scandal, and was grilled by the Health Committee in the National Assembly on Friday, July 17 on the inflated PPE prices.

At the time, Manjari argued that the cost was due to the fact that KEMSA was purchasing high quality items in the market, stating that they could not be sure of other items' quality particularly at the onset of the pandemic.

It had been observed that as KEMSA was purchasing the PPEs in bulk for multiple counties, the price was supposed to be lower.

Notably, counties have been required to buy the PPEs at high prices from KEMSA, when they are available on the market for lower prices.

A medical practitioner dressed in protective gear at Coronavirus isolation and treatment facility in Mbagathi District Hospital on Friday, March 6, 2020.
A medical practitioner dressed in protective gear at the Coronavirus isolation and treatment facility in Mbagathi District Hospital on Friday, March 6, 2020.
Simon Kiragu
Kenyans.co.ke