Officials from the Ministry of Transport were on Wednesday hard-pressed to explain the ministry’s role in the clearing of Jack Ma Foundation donations that arrived in the country in March this year to help in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Appearing before the National Assembly Health Committee chaired by Murang’a Woman Representative Sabina Chege, Transport Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Chris Obure, found it hard to convince the committee as he was accused of lacking facts regarding the clearing of the consignment.
Consequently, the representative from the ministry and his team were sent away to “prepare well” before appearing before the committee on Thursday.
The CAS had told the committee that all the donations were cleared exclusively by the government clearing agency.
In his submissions, Obure said ground handling and storage services for donations was provided by Kenya Airways.
“Consignment of COVID-19 detection kits arrived in the country on March 24, 2020, and was released on the same day to KEMRI,” he said.
“It was collected from the Kenya Airways warehouse by a senior official of the Ministry of Health, Dr Isabella Ayaga.”
However, the committee chairperson found the information too general to help the committee in its probe regarding alleged fraud in the handling of the donation.
“The document before us from the ministry is not well prepared. We need to compare what was donated, what was received and what actually ended up in the warehouse,” Chege said.
“If we have these gaps you will keep Kenyans guessing. We will see you tomorrow at 9:30am on Thursday.”
The committee demanded written submissions to help its members know the truth regarding allegations that some of the Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) donated by Jack Ma ended up in Tanzania and some sold back to the Kenyan government.
Speaking during the grilling session, Cherangany MP Joshua Kutuny said the ministry is not prepared to face them in regards to the questions they have.
“…when we have people come here with half baked information, it causes tension,” he said.
“I will appeal that any institution invited here, if they are not prepared, they need to go back. I know you are experienced, you should not panic.”
The MP said the public has a right to know what happened and should be fed with enough information on the investigations.
“I want to appeal to the government that they fine-tune their communication,” he said.
Appearing before the same committee, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said that the issue about stolen PPEs is rumours.
“The issue of stolen PPEs are rumours… Nothing has been stolen… I actually invited Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to carry out investigations on MoH and Kemsa…If we had something to hide, we would not have invited them, ” he said.
“We have no intention of protecting anybody, we have no intention of hiding anything. I will do my best to clarify any issues.”