By ALLY JAMAH and MOSES NJAGIH
The tender committee that procured the helicopter that crashed last month killing six Kenyans including Internal Security minister George Saitoti and his deputy Orwa Ojode ignored advice from their seniors.
The Commission of Inquiry probing the crash heard from the Chief Finance Officer of the police John Mwai Wambugu that the committee ignored a recommendation from the then Internal Security PS Francis Kimemia to consult an approved list of aircraft manufacturers.
The approved list, which was under the custodianship of the Administrative Police department, would allow the police to procure the helicopter using the restricted tender method that allows only select suppliers to participate in the tender.
While being cross-examined by lawyer Fred Ngatia, representing the Saitoti family, Wambugu admitted that the Ministerial Tender Committee and the Technical Evaluation Committee did not look at the approved list.
Instead, Wambugu and his team settled for two manufacturers of the Eurocopter and Bell models after seeking advice from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA).
“We were not sure where the AP had sourced their list of manufacturers. So we chose to exercise our own discretion. We were not bound by the recommendation from our seniors,” he said.
Wambugu sat in the Ministerial Tender Committee and was the chairperson of the Technical Evaluation Committee that approved the purchase of the Eurocopter chopper.
“Our request to seek restricted tender from two firms has been based on technical recommendation from the KCAA. KCAA has advised that Eurocopter and Bell models are widely used in Kenya and their performance is well-known,” wrote Wambugu in a letter to Kimemia then.
Responding to lawyer Mayiani Sankale, representing the family of the late Saitoti’s bodyguard Joshua Tonkei, the finance officer also conceded that the police do not have a list of helicopter manufacturers approved by the Public Procurement Oversight Authority.
It also emerged that a previous attempt by the Ministerial Tender Committee to procure the Eurocopter directly from the manufacturers without a tender was blocked by Kimemia.
Kimemia reportedly suggested that the police could procure the helicopter using either an open or restricted tender to enable the Government get value for money.