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Theft at military installation to cost extra Sh240m

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 4 -Theft at a military installation will cost the government an extra Sh240 million for completion rehabilitation works at the Laikipia Airbase runway.

A consultant hired to rehabilitate the runway was on Tuesday put to task by the Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Foreign Affairs to explain why the Ministry of State for Defence needed to spend more money on the project.

Mr Samuel Miring’u, the lead consultant for the project told the Adan Keynan-led committee that some unforeseen challenges like theft had made it necessary for additional costs on the initial contract sum to be incurred.

Mr Miring’u told the committee that it was difficult to identify the party concerned in the stealing of airfield lighting accessories because the military sometimes allowed herders to graze their livestock in sections of the Laikipia Airbase.

“If you look at the item in lighting for example are really unable to see how we can guarantee that lighting fittings will be safe after we go, we need the Sh240 million to ensure to make it (runway) operationally safe to run and also to protect investment,” he said.

“When we put this concern forward we were told of the fact that the military are sometimes asked to allow in herders but then you become unable to control who comes in after that. The old runway has suffered more especially the accessories made of aluminium and steel which have been stolen,” he added.

“These works are separate, the securing of the lighting systems is not part of the initial contract, these are only things that we have foreseen together with the employer,” he reiterated.

Mr Miring’u the Director of Mirsa and Associates, a civil engineering firm in charge of the project was at pains to explain to the committee why he had not foreseen challenges being a professional and why he had worked between 2004 and 2008 yet he did not have an engagement letter.

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“Mr Chairman(committee chair Hon. Adan Keynan), I have a letter from the Ministry of State for Defence telling me that I have been appointed under the terms the government uses to engage consultants. You don’t sign an agreement on day one. I was not paid anything for the duration I worked without the letter,” he added.

The contractor was also put to task to explain why he had not carried out extensive tests on the properties of the soil on the ground on which the runway lay.

The contactors also told the committee that they were forced to incur costs in drilling three boreholes because there was no water in Laikipia.

Other challenges that the consultants did not foresee include the power supply which the contractors had to connect from a distance of about 1.2 kilometres and the destruction of other systems like the underground water and fuel pipes because drawings supplied to the contractors did not show the existence of such systems.

The consultant also confirmed that the contract term was shortened on condition that it will be a fixed cost project and no fluctuations would be later allowed.

Works on the Laikipia runway rehabilitation project got underway in 2010 and are set for completion and hand over by February 2012.

The three components of the project are near completion with the civil works 85 percent complete, the electrical works, 75 percent complete and the mechanical works 70 percent complete.

Mr Miring’u also told the committee that he had advised the Ministry of State for Defence on the need to get funds for the installation of Instrument Landing System (ILS) to enable aircrafts land at night.

The parliamentary committee on Defence and Foreign Relations is conducting an inquiry into the procurement procedures, recruitments and promotions at the Ministry of State for Defence.

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