Uhuru Order Leaves Young Innovator Wallowing in Debt

  • President Uhuru Kenyatta addressing the nation on November 4, 2020.
    President Uhuru Kenyatta addressing the nation.
  • UPDATE: JANUARY 20, 2021 2:20PM: In a response to queries on why the government seemed to have abandoned the procurement of 500 hospital beds from local innovator, Mungai Gathogo, PDU Secretary General Andrew Wakahiu stated that the plan to procure the 500 beds was marred by multiple challenges in the process. 

    He explained that after the order was made, there emerged a man who claimed to own the business and title deed in which the workshop was located. The man added that he had employed Muigai, which raised concerns about giving business to the company whose documents showed that it was not owned by the young man.

    "When the ownership wrangles emerged, I advised them to sort them out first and by the time they had agreed on the terms, the urgency of the matter had lapsed and direct procurement could not be arranged. I told them that since KEMSA had already called for tenders, they should apply but they did not want to. 

    "This whole time I was also helping them create standardised beds since wood is not preferred for hospital beds. I introduced them to engineers from the Numerical Machining Complex which is involved in the production of metal-based engineering products," the PDU boss stated. 

    Since he was an innovator and the immediacy for the procurement had lapsed Wakihiu advised the young man to think about creating school equipment ahead of school reopening. 

    "Mungai did not want to participate in tendering despite the assurance that I would put in a good word for him. Even after introducing him to the Kiambu Governor he still did not want to engage in the right process," Wakihiu told Kenyans.co.ke.

    As the country’s Covid-19 cases were rising in 2020, the health systems seemed to be on the brink of being overwhelmed. President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered the government to procure locally made hospital beds after photos of the beds went viral. 

    One of the innovators, Mungai Gathogo (26), was contacted by a delegation sent by the president to make an order at Ksh 65,000 each compared to Ksh 85,000 for the cheapest available import.

    What seemed like a prudent decision by the head of state turned into a nightmare for Mungai who is now calling on the government to fulfil its obligations. 

    Presidential Delivery Unit Secretary Andrew Wakahiu inspects hospital beds made by Mungai Gathogo and Joseph Muhinja in Kiambu
    Presidential Delivery Unit Secretary Andrew Wakahiu inspects hospital beds made by Mungai Gathogo and Joseph Muhinja in Kiambu

    Speaking to Kenyans.co.ke on Wednesday, January 20, he stated that the government did not issue him with a local purchase order to finance 500 hospital beds.

    “The delegation said it had been sent by the president and that we should make 500 beds. They helped us get certification from regulators and after we got the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) certificate we lost contact with them,” he said.

    The young innovator stated that he was stuck with a loan of Ksh3.6 million which the bank and other creditors are now demanding payment. 

    “We imported 2,000 caster wheels and 500 lift mechanism devices because they could not be found locally. We also trained 65 young men for 10 days which cost about Ksh 650,000.

    “It makes me angry when the president says that he empowered youths in Kenya because I wonder what he is talking about,” Mungai stated. 

    The assembly of the beds is yet to start because without the LPO he cannot get any more financing. He is stuck with the imported elements in his workshop in Kiambu which he cannot resell. 

    “The government officials also started saying the Covid-19 cases were declining making us worried that we would be stuck with the 500 beds,” he expressed. 

    “Mr President. I'm waiting for your people to come and buy beds. Please send them. The debt is too much. The bank and individuals are after us,” Mungai pleaded in a message to the head of state. 

    Mungai Gathogo showcasing one of his locally made ICU beds
    Mungai Gathogo showcasing one of his locally made ICU beds