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Sunday, March 29, 2020

How Kenya paid Chinese billions to party, buy airtime, plant SGR grass

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SGR Contract: The Standard Gauge Railway line project that President Uhuru Kenyatta singles out as the highlight of his presidency is emerging as one of the biggest scams of modern day governments.

According to a shocking report that was published by the Nation Media Group, the Jubilee government spent billions of borrowed money SGR extras with zero return on investment. For example, the report says that apart from the SGR ending up in ‘nowhere’, the Chinese rolled in bundles of money amounting to hundreds of millions, and at one point, over a billion shillings.

“The grass on SGR stations and some sections of the line cost the taxpayer Sh. 1 billion. The airtime allowance for the lead engineer was Sh. 5 million. The engineer’s house was furnished at a cost of Sh. 3 million and office computers bought at Sh. 280,000 each, while his laser jet printers cost a staggering Sh. 513,700 each. In total, the taxpayer forked out Sh. 57 million to provide office furniture,” says the report.

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The report that was work of business cum investigative journalists Paul Wafula and Vincent Achuka further adds that the government paid some Sh. 239 million as entertainment fee for the Chinese.

The report says that the government, through Kenya Railways, could have stopped the unashamed spendthrift, but opted not. As a result, items were over inflated at the taxpayers expense.

“Some of the exaggerated prices for items include station loudspeakers for Sh. 28,800, video cabinets (Sh. 1.14 million), workshop benches (Sh. 180,000), ticketing system (Sh. 8.4 million each), air conditioners (Sh. 1.9 million), portable radios (Sh. 119,100) and digital voice recorders (Sh. 341,500. Can be acquired for Sh. 2,000 in Nairobi), 46 A3 laser printers at Sh. 513,700 each (These printers currently cost between Sh40,000 and Sh. 75,000), diesel generators at Sh. 4.26 million each, six ZX7 DC/AC arc-welding machines at Sh. 442,872 each,” says the report.

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The report on the SGR contract further says as follows:

“The air conditioners for the computer rooms for the Nairobi and Mombasa stations were bought for Sh. 1.9 million. The Nairobi station, according to the contractor, needed 50 of these while Mombasa needed 30. All the stations got a Sh. 4.5 million vehicle for the electrical engineer, which was shipped into the country without payment of stamp duty. The Mombasa and Nairobi stations each got a 45-seater bus bought for Sh. 25 million, a 12-seater minibus (Sh. 12 million) and a 1.5-tonne double cab pick-up for Sh. 3.5 million. All these prices were exaggerated. A state-of-the-art 45-seater bus costs an average of Sh. 15 million today, but a majority are about Sh. 10 million.”

These shocking revelations show why President Uhuru may have refused to make the Kenya-China SGR contract public after he was challenged to do so by NTV journalist Mark Masai. It also explains why Kenya was duped into paying hundreds of billions more than neighbouring countries such as Tanzania and Ethiopia which have built more efficient, powerful railway projects.

For example, the SGR project being currently undertaken in Tanzania will not only be electric, but will also be faster for both passenger and cargo compared to the diesel constructed by President Uhuru’s Jubilee government.

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