The Cabinet Secretary for Roads, Transport and Public Works Mr Kipchumba Murkomen released what he referred to as the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) contracts.
However, that is not all the parts.
The SGR contract has many parts, some of which will never see the light of day.
After the 2020 leak of the SGR contract by the Nation Media Group (NMG), most Kenyans failed to follow through. But here I bring you the whole story of unprecedented theft.
It was loot-for-all season.
In the document, section 13 Appendix A titled “Supply and installation of the facilities. Locomotives and stocks for the Mombasa – Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway Project”; the expensive white elephant can be seen in all its gory.
Appendix A is titled Non-Binding Bill of Quantities, it is 44 pages of pure extortion.
All the costs are inflated.
It is also where the Sh1 billion for grass is located.
Let’s dig in
No doubt that the SGR was an unnecessary project, this is at least from three angles.
First, we didn’t need to build it.
Secondly, if then we needed a modern rail, we should’ve upgraded the Metre gauge one at a cheaper cost since we wouldn’t need new land and the compensation shenanigans.
Thirdly, living in a country where public officials love kickbacks more than their first wives, the least Kenyans could ask for was a better-built railway. We should’ve built two lines, which is more efficient.
There was always that debate about revamping the Metre gauge Railway (MGR) and building a new Standard Gauge one.
No one listened to the experts who included a former top Government employee Raila Odinga.
In January 2020, during an interview, the African Union High Representative for Infrastructure Hon. Raila Odinga told a local TV station that he and former President the late Mwai Kibaki in the coalition government had tendered the SGR project at a lower cost, but when President Uhuru Kenyatta took over in April 2013, they cancelled the contract and re-tendered a fresh at inflated costs.
“Before we left the government with Mwai Kibaki, we awarded SGR tender to a company at USD2.5billion. But when jubilee came in in 2013, they cancelled the tender and awarded it back to the same company but at USD4.5billion. Obvious inflation of figures”, Raila Odinga, told NTV Journalist Joseph Warungu.
However, it was not clear if Mwai Kibaki’s SGR would be dual line and electic or single and diesel.
What is clear is that Chinese Communist Party with its zero tolerance to corruption had aided and abated coruption in foreign land called Kenya.
The Government of Kenya (GoK) and China Road and Bridges Corporation (CRBC) had pushed through with an unnecessary project which made no economic sense to grease the hands of leaders both in Kenya and China.
SGR engineers costed Sh1 Billion for grass only, this is public knowledge, but there’s more.
Mr Li Qiang was the General Manager of CRBC and a representative of the Chinese government in Kenya.
He signed the contract with the then Kenya Railways Managing Director Nduva Muli.
The prices of basic commodities were raised to levels unprecedented for example a mere bench cost Sh180,000. The prices were quoted in United States Dollars (USD) and the conversion rate for the below section will be USD 1 for Sh100.
A battery forklift that costs about Sh900,000 was bought at Sh1.37 million.
Acetylene cylinder normally worth Sh5,000 was purchased at Sh38,040.
A good lighting arrester retailing for between Sh500 and Sh3000 was sold to Kenya at the price of Sh11,680.
The Chinese company, China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) signed the contract with the Kenya government, National Treasury.
Digital voice recorders cost as little as Sh2,000 in Nairobi. These small costs here and there multiplied by the number of gadgets being bought added up to billions of shillings.
CRBC also billed Kenyans Sh38 million to install a passenger guiding system, Sh14.6 million for each security system at the railway stations, Sh26 million for each luggage inspection system and Sh14 million for passenger monitoring systems at the stations.
The company also said it bought 46 A3 laser printers at Sh513,700 each for use at the stations during construction. The Nairobi station received five of these printers. These printers currently cost between Sh40,000 and Sh75,000.
Each of the intermediary stations also got a 30KW generator for use in case of a power outage; Mombasa and Nairobi got two. The diesel generators, according to the contracts, were acquired at Sh4.26 million each. When the Nation asked around, we were told we could have one for Sh1.5 million.
Additionally, Kenyans paid Sh5.4 million for each of the 31 boreholes dug by CRBC in the intermediate stations. The Sh5.4 million is for drilling alone minus equipping and commissioning. The entire SGR from Mombasa to Nairobi has seven stations, which means each one was supposed to have three boreholes, a geological impossibility.
CRBC also said it needed to import six ZX7 DC/AC arc-welding machines as each station needed six of these for construction. These, according to CRBC, were bought at Sh442,872 each. We were able to get the same fo25,000 from Chinese manufacturers.
Suffering staff in the Chinese concentration camp
CRBC wanted to stay out of the limelight that had become toxic.
They distanced themselves by forming the Africa Star Railway Operation Company (Afristar).
Afristar, formed in May 2017 is the company that runs the SGR.
Its human rights and worker treatment records hasn’t been good at all. It is closely mirroring the Chinese concentration camp
The man in charge, Sammy Gachuhi, a former Rift Valley Railways (RVR) manager who was banned by the World Bank for corruption.
It is always a wonder how he got the job in the first place even before the ban was lifted.
Gachuhi was thrown out by RVR after it was blacklisted by the world bank and lost huge business over Gachuhi’s corruption.
Six RVR bosses were named in the World Bank ethics probe, they were Karim Sadek (transport MD at Qalaa), Hassan Massoud (non-executive director), Carlos Andrade (ex-CEO), Bong Yoon (chief financial officer), Sammy Gachuhi (general manager), and Fabio Steffler (ex-chief operating officer).
The World Bank assessment found that the six executives inflated the cost of locomotives and bribed Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) officials to avoid paying VAT amounting to Sh377.4 million on the engines.
They were also accused of obstructing the forensic audit through delays, failure to make crucial documents available, and asking employees not to co-operate with the lender’s staff.
SGR is and will always be a Chinese affair. Kenyan workers cannot properly lodge a case in Kenyan courts as contracts show that any major changes on the agreements can only be made by Beijing, not Nairoi.
This has meant that the Kenyan enforcers of the lopsided contract have a carte blance on the natives.
They loot, mistreat and kill with wanton abandon and nothing will be done to them.
It is time, for the new President William Ruto regime cracks the whip, and overhaul the management at both KRC and Afristar. The govt must also demand the CRBC ships in mature and untainted by corruption managers.
“If no settlement is reached through friendly consultation, each party shall have a right to submit a dispute to the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Committee for arbitration …” the SGR contract states.
Kenyan leaders can only watch from afar?
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