The cost of three helicopters acquired from a foreign supplier by the National Police Service (NPS) in 2018, was inflated by nearly Ksh1 billion, a new audit report by Auditor-General Edwar Ouko has revealed.
According to the report, which Ouko tabled before parliament last week, officials at the ministry of interior increased prices of the new turbine engine helicopters by Ksh906.1 million up from the original bid price that the tender evaluation committee had recommended.
This saw the price of the helicopters rise from Ksh4 billion to Ksh4.96 billion at the negotiation stage.
The three choppers, which were inspected by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, include two AgustaWestland AW139 helicopters; one configured for VIP use and another for advanced mission operations.
The audit report showed that documents and records in the tendering process of the helicopters revealed that only one bidder was invited and issued with bid documents on March 29, 2017, for the purchase of all the choppers.
Ouko noted that no evidence was provided to show that there was technical input in the preparations of the tender documents.
“As a result, additional essential standard aviation helicopters parts were not included in the original tender documents contrary to section 104(a) of the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act,” said Ouko.
Further, it’s noted that the ministry paid the foreign supplier Ksh76.6 million in unexplained payment for difference in exchange rates.
The Auditor-General also put the ministry on the spot over procurement of General Purpose Machine Guns and AK-47 rifles at a cost of Ksh269.6 million ($2,696,250).
Ouko noted that the firearms were procured from a bidder who “was not responsive on the rate of fire, maximum effective range and provision of accessories.”
The audit report revealed that the helicopters and the firearms were purchased under classified procurement and awarded to bidders through direct procurement.
During the procurement process, the report shows that the state department floated and awarded tender numbers NPS/AW/001/2016/17 for purchase of AW139 LE law enforcement twin-turbine, AW 139 VIP-twin turbine engine and AW 119 KX-single turbine engine to a foreign firm at a contract sum of Ksh4,927,993,312 (euros 39,123,357) through direct procurement.
According to Ouko, the tender was evaluated at preliminary stages and found to be responsive, but the tendering committee still settled for direct procurement.
He raised critical questions as to why despite the tender evaluation committee recommending that the outcome be negotiated with the bidder to get better value for taxpayers’ money through harmonisation of the submitted bid documents with the issued documents and lowering the prices without compromising technical specifications, during the negotiation stage held on May 8, 2017, the cost of the tender went up from the original Euros 31,941,200 to Euros 39,123,357 by Euros 7,182,157 (Ksh906,100,927) contrary to the earlier agreement.
Further, Ouko noted that minutes of the negotiation committee indicates that additional items negotiated were not included in the original tender documents.
These items included among others weather radar, enhanced proximity warning system, additional flight display and FLIR Ultra force 350 EP camera all amounting to Ksh906.9 million.
On firearm procurement, the audit revealed that the bidder did not provide a certificate of incorporation and a weaponry manufacture authorisation or registration.