NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 13 – A parliamentary committee has began a probe into how the tender for supplying 1.3 million laptops for Standard One pupils was awarded to Olive Telecommunications of India for Sh24.6 billion.
Members of Parliament on Wednesday briefly met with Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang but adjourned proceedings to allow the PS to return with the final report of the procurement process.
Kipsang pledged to “set the record straight” after the House Committee on Education, Science and Technology led by Chairperson Sabina Chege raised concerns about how tendering of the Jubilee administration’s flagship project was conducted.
“I want to start by registering my disappointment on behalf of the committee because the tender award was done before our questions on due diligence were complete,” said Chege.
Committee members questioned Kipsang whether due diligence was carried out on the three firms that tendered and whether the tender requirements were strictly followed.
Efforts by Kipsang to take the MPs through the tendering process flopped after a member of the committee accused the ministry of mischief and asked for adjournment until all the committee members received the full report.
“It is a high time we stamp our authority so that we are taken seriously. We requested for these documents to be sent to us early so that we can read and comprehend before we make any decision,” the MP said.
The ministry officials had made available only 15 copies of the tendering report to the committee against a membership of 29 MPs.
The laptop project is one of the key pillars in the Jubilee Coalition manifesto. The Ministry of Education plans to roll-out the programme in three years.
The laptops, to be provided this year, will have the capability to accommodate digital content for class one, two and three.
And for the subsequent two years, the devices will have the capacity to accommodate class one to eight digital content.
Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wah, who appeared as a friend of the committee, said he had received information in November that there were deliberate attempts to award the tender to Olive.
It is alleged that the specimen laptops supplied last year by Olive to the Ministry of Education as part of the tender were manufactured by another company.
The laptop was branded Olive but came as a sample from the India office of a chip manufacturer.
If Olive is not the manufacturer, it would not be eligible to supply the laptops under the tender documents.