Former Director of Medical Services Nicholas Muraguri triggered the procurement of 100 portable container clinics that cost the taxpayer Sh1 billion, Parliament heard Monday.

Health Principal Secretary Peter Tum told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that Dr Muraguri wrote to then PS Khadija Kassachoon on May 12, 2015 requesting approval for procurement of the containers that are currently lying idle in Mombasa.

Dr Muraguri who was later elevated to the position of principal secretary in the ministry has since been transferred to the Lands Ministry in a similar capacity.

At Muraguri’s request

“The procurement was triggered by a request by the then Director of Medical Services (DMS) Dr Nicholas Muraguri through a letter dated May 12, 2015 to then principal secretary Dr Khadija Kassachoon. The request sought to have the PS approve procurement of 100 portable clinics,” Mr Tum told the committee chaired by Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi.

In a special audit report on the statements of accounts for the Ministry of Health, Auditor General Edward Ouko says Dr Muraguri’s memo to Dr Kassachoon stated that the portable clinics would be placed in strategic areas within slum areas in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu cities.

The audit revealed that the ministry paid Sh800 million for portable clinics before installing, commissioning and handing them over, thus contravening the contractual agreement.

Mr Tum told MPs that the supplier, Estama Investments, was to supply, install, commission and hand over the 100 clinics at a cost of Sh1 billion.
“While we acknowledge that there was no provision for part execution of the contract and hence partial payment, it is worth noting that the supplier was not at fault for the incomplete execution of the contract,”Mr Tum said.

He said the ministry encountered challenges in implementing the project components initially assigned to counties and therefore could not avail ready sites for the supplier to install the clinics.

“Since the supplier was not at fault, the Ministry could not withhold all payment as this could have made the supplier to seek legal redress to the detriment of the ministry thus partial payment was in the best interest of the government,” he said.

Lying idle

He said the supplier installed 11 clinics in Nairobi in December 2016 while 89 are still lying idle at the government premises at the National Youth Service (NYS) depot in Mombasa.

Mr Tum told MPs that the remaining clinics are a subject of investigations by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and therefore cannot be installed.

He said the ministry has written to the EACC seeking to be allowed to access the containers for installing but the agency has not provided any response.

“We requested EACC to allow us to distribute these mobile clinics as investigations are ongoing. Because of investigations, i wrote to EACC and i am waiting for their directives,” he said.

Mr Wandayi demanded to know why the Ministry had failed to install the containers three years after the scandal broke out.