Fate of Sh200bn Kitui dam to be decided Friday

Fate of Sh200bn Kitui dam to be decided Friday
KITAVI MUTUA

By KITAVI MUTUA
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The fate of the Sh200 billion High Grand Falls dam will be known today when the High Court delivers a ruling on whether the project is to be rolled out.

High Court Judge John Mativo is expected to issue a decision on the dispute surrounding the proposed multipurpose facility.

The row on the planned project in Kitui and Tharaka-Nithi counties had been heard and determined by the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board (PPARB) for a record five times before spilling to the corridors of justice.

It arose after the National Irrigation Board declined to award the contract to the bidder who won the tender competitively, despite numerous orders by the PPARB.

NIB claimed the procurement review board was biased while handling the tender case on the bid won by a consortium of British and Turkish firms – GBM and ERG Consortium.

The ruling comes two days after President Uhuru Kenyatta made changes in the government, sacking Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri, who supervised the tendering process.

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Three months ago, President Kenyatta moved the irrigation department from Mr Kiunjuri’s then Agriculture docket to the Ministry of Water, in apparent intervention to save the Vision 2030 flagship project.

According to suit papers seen by the Nation, NIB wanted the court to overturn several rulings made by the PPARB, including the last one on March 21 where it was ordered to evaluate and award the contract to the London-based bidder within 14 days.

“NIB believes the decision of PPARB is tainted with bias, illegality, irrationality, lack of logic and is ultra vires to the provisions of the Procurement and Asset Disposal Act and all other relevant provisions of the law,” read an affidavit sworn by NIB general manager Gitonga Mugambi.

The judicial review matter is significant because it sets a precedent where a government procuring entity disagrees with the body mandated by law to determine tendering disputes and takes the fight to the High court.

However, during the case hearings, the Attorney General strongly defended the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board over its handling of the tendering dispute, arguing the case undermined PPARB’s authority and mandate.

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