By John Mugendi
Senior political leaders and business people in Tharaka Nithi and Meru counties are among contractors awarded the controversial multimillion tenders for the refurbishment of coffee factories in the region.
The Press Point has exclusively established that the highly influential and rich politicians and business people paid between Sh200,000 to Sh1000,000 to corruptly acquire the ‘fake’ tenders that were being awarded without following the due procurement process.
A rich Tharaka Nithi County politician who is currently in office had reportedly been awarded a tender worth Sh150 million to erect perimeter walls, build offices and install CCTV cameras in several factories.
The contractors were expected to make 50 percent profit in the lucrative tenders.
Factories were supposed to be renovated, each at a cost of between Sh10 million and Sh32 million and a number of the contractors had done over 30 percent of the work before an alarm was raised over the authenticity of the tenders.
A woman, Caroline Karanja, who is currently being held at Chuka Police Station after Chuka court gave police 10 days to conclude the investigations, is being accused of issuing the tenders while impersonating an official from the International Coffee Organization (ICO).
The contractors were signing suspicious tender documents with the coffee society managements who are also being investigated by police.
According to our reliable sources, the management of the coffee societies received Sh50,000 to facilitate the signing of the tenders.
The contractors started doubting the deal after the suspect declined to process payment for the first certificates claiming that they had done shoddy work against the agreement that they signed with the society management.
Twenty-seven (27) society managements raised concerns and reported the matter to police after the contractors turned to them asking for payment since they were the ones who signed the contracts.
The politicians who are counting huge losses have chosen to follow up the matter silently to avoid embarrassment and political consequences.
The county governments of Tharaka Nithi and Meru and the national government have denied having any knowledge on the multimillion projects.
Already, coffee farmers are suffering because some of the dilapidated facilities that they were previously using including driers had been demolished to put up modern ones.
In Meru county, a total of 50 coffee factories were earmarked for renovation and work had already started in most of them.
Similar tenders had also been awarded in Machakos and Bungoma counties but work did not kick off after an alarm was raised in Tharaka Nithi and Meru counties.
Ms Karanja was denied bond after the prosecution argued that since she had worked in the coffee industry for a long time, she was likely to interfere with the investigations.
The court was told that Ms Karanja was charged and jailed for a similar crime in a court in Kirinyaga.