The Standard Gauge Railway: The Next Big Scandal
LARGE Infrastructure projects without qualified independent design consultancy and supervision services are like general elections where every party does its own vote tally and broadcasts only preferred results – a rigging absurdity.
And yet just such a confidence trick – or con – lies at the heart of the construction of the standard gauge railway project.
The main contract went to the China Road and Bridge Corporation and the design supervision tender to a consortium headed by China’s Third Railway Survey and Design Institute for the construction of the Nairobi-Mombasa standard-gauge line.
But Kenyan law and international best practice demand the design supervisor must be an independent entity with no relationship to the main contractor.
Four key documents map SGR design impunity
Four key documents concerning the SGR trace the arc of impunity in Kenya when it comes to the procurement of design consultancy and supervision services for Large Infrastructure projects.
They are Parliament’s explosive Public Investments Committee Report of April 2014; a Court of Appeal ruling of November 2014; and three bank transfer documents for a total of US$29,105,231 .22 (KSh2,638,389,209 .65) in November 2014.
The SGR project is Kenya’s first new railway line in more than a century. Planned during the Grand Coalition regime of President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, it is now one of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto’s Jubilee administration’s signature legacy projects.
But it is being implemented without independent design consultancy and supervision services and in disregard of the 16-month-old Court of Appeal ruling barring payment to the non-independent providers of these services.
The latter are two inexperienced local firms in partnership with a Chinese corporation. The order was made pending the hearing of a case brought by an Italian firm – TEAM Group – that bid for the design supervision contract and which has a global footprint.