The chickens are nearly coming home to roost over wanton theft of taxpayers’ money at the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) after board members and management differed sharply at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), setting the stage for the arrest of senior officials.
This is after the DCI headquarters on Kiambu Road in Nairobi took over some aspects of the investigations at the port as it seeks to break the deadlock that has prevented officials behind the alleged graft from being arrested and prosecuted.
On Monday, all the KPA board members, apart from their chairman Joseph Kibwana, spent the whole day at the DCI headquarters for questioning over flawed tenders at the port amounting to Sh2.7 billion.
During questioning, differences between the board and managing director Daniel Manduku emerged.
This is after Dr Manduku claimed that his signature had been forged in order to allow a Sh1.4 billion payment for the construction of concrete barriers at the port which had not been planned for in the 2018/2019 financial year. The barriers were put up at an inflated cost of Sh79,193 per barrier.
He further claimed that he used some Sh600 million that had been set aside for repairs in order to make part of the payment but he was hard-pressed to explain how he approved the release of the cash if he had indeed realised that his signature had been forged.
Board members questioned distanced themselves from the payment by saying that the plan for putting up the concrete barriers does not exist in any of their minutes for the whole of last year.
Left in a fix, Dr Manduku told investigators to give him more time to bring the required documents in order to show that the tender on concrete barriers and others amounting to Sh2.7 billion, which are currently being investigated, were above board.
Also questioned yesterday is Kenya Railways Corporation MD Philip Mainga over what he knows about the Makongeni yard, which KPA had intended to buy but the deal never materialised.
Despite the collapse of the deal, KPA went ahead and set aside Sh500 million for the development of the yard in questionable circumstances by using money meant for purchasing land for the Inland Container Deport in Nairobi (ICDN).
Sources close to the investigation told the Nation that Mr Mainga told detectives that the land in question still belongs to Kenya Railways Corporation and KPA has never paid a cent for it.
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji two weeks ago confirmed receiving three investigation files from the DCI.
The three files include the Makongeni Goodshed Project, construction of concrete barriers and the revitalisation of the Kisumu port.
“The file was handed over to me. We are looking at it and if satisfied as ODPP we will proceed,” Mr Haji said two weeks ago.
This means that yesterday’s interrogation was probably meant to tie up some lose ends before a final decision is made.
Some sources at DCI have told the Nation that several of the people questioned yesterday could be turned into state witnesses once the cases are taken to court.
Among those said to be on the DCI’s radar are Dr Manduku, operations general manager William Rutto, senior works officer Anthony Muhanji, principal civil engineer Bernard Nyobange and works officer Juma Chigulu.
The parallel investigations being carried out by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the DCI are now on their seventh month without a breakthrough.
This is because the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has in more than one occasion returned files presented to him by the two investigative agencies and asked them to tie up some lose ends before making a final recommendations.
The Nation also understands that some politically connected people have been working round the clock to scuttle investigations on KPA after it emerged that investigations on companies that have been awarded tenders unfairly by the authority could touch very high on the political ladder.
In May EACC launched investigations over the fraudulent awarding of a Sh40 billion Kipevu Oil Terminal project, which was awarded to a blacklisted Chinese firm in October 2018 after a delay going back to 2016. The results of this investigations are yet to be made public.
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