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[February 15, 2014]
MPs: Firm unfit to supply laptops [Nation (Kenya)]
(Nation (Kenya) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) A Parliamentary committee has warned that Olive Telecommunications, which was awarded a Sh24.6 billion tender to supply laptops to primary schools, did not meet the tender specifications.
The MPs have warned that the firm is not a computer manufacturing company and urged the government not to sign the contract and suspend the importation of the laptops.
"Olive is a small company in India that has partnered with another company called 'CMC' so it is not an original equipment manufacturer," said Molo MP Jacob Macharia during a press conference at Flamingo Beach Resort and Spa in Mombasa.
He noted that the tendering document required that the company awarded must be an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) but Olive was a company that sold and distributed low end phones. (READ: Intrigues behind Sh24bn laptop deal as Indian firm promises to deliver) The committee member added that it does not have a distribution network of its own and they were going to supply the 1.2 million laptops in collaboration with a company that manufactures computers.
He added that the Indian company has also not signed an agreement with their said computer partner and as such cannot be trusted to supply the laptops in due time.
"There is no partnership agreement between Olive and the computer company so if we pay Olive and they do not supply then we will lose. We are on the way to a scandal," the MP said.
"We currently have the railway tender that is questionable and other scandals in the country. As a committee, we will not sit and watch," said Mbooni MP Michael Kisoi.
NOT SCRUTINIZED The two MPs also accused Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi of awarding the tender when they had not received or scrutinized the due diligence report on their findings on the Indian firm when the ministry officials toured the company.
"The ministry has been dismissing calls for clarifications as mere rhetoric and has gone ahead to announce the winner without clearing the air," said Mr Kisoi.
The two MPs pointed out that they arrived at their conclusions after conducting parallel investigations as a committee.
"It is our strong opinion that the ministry must suspend any attempts to execute any contractual obligations to the awarded firm until all the issues raised have been adequately addressed," said committee chairperson Sabina Chege.
She added that they will also undertake an audit of the entire process and advise the government accordingly.
Ms Chege also said that the committee viewed the purchase of 20,637 printers and a similar number of projectors as a waste of funds.
"We have gone to Portugal and Rwanda and the kids just have the laptops and the teacher writes on the board. Why do they need projectors? Those are for class six to eight where there are illustrations. They are a bit misplaced," said Ms Chege.
She added that they also expressed concerns on whether expenses that come with printers will be passed to parents.
"Are the parents going to be buying cartridges and printing papers? Who is going to take care of that cost? We also want him (Kaimenyi) to suspend purchasing of printers and projectors," she added.
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