MPs summon contractor over Sh3.2bn KICC facelift

Parliament has summoned a Chinese contractor over alleged inflation of the renovation cost of the Kenyatta International Convention Center (KICC) to Sh3.2 billion ahead of the Africa Climate Conference hosted by President William Ruto in September 2023.

The National Assembly Tourism and Wildlife Committee heard that China Wu Yi had failed to pay Sh674.6 million owed to local subcontractors who carried out the work under the supervision of the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF).

The committee was shocked to learn from 14 subcontractors that China Wu Yi had only paid 17 per cent or Sh114 million of the Sh3.19 billion it said was the total contract sum.

The new figures differ from the Sh1.94 billion that the Ministry of Defense and KDF said was the total contract amount for the renewal.

Sh1.25 billion has already been disbursed to the Ministry of Defense for payment of the Chinese contractor. KICC management earlier this month transferred Sh300 million to the Ministry of Defense for further remittance to the contractor.

This is in addition to the Sh950 million the KDF had paid to China Wu Yi. Committee chairman Kareke Mbiuki demanded to know the origin of the Sh3.2 billion and the Chinese company’s involvement in paying subcontractors.

“As a committee, we are not aware of any contractual sum of Sh3.2 billion. The information we have is that the sum of the project was Sh1.94 billion, which we as Parliament approved,” said Mr Mbiuki, MP for Maasa.

“We will only be able to understand it after we summon China Wu Yi and demand the provision of the original contract signed between the Ministry of Defense and the Chinese company. “I order China Wu Yi to appear before us next week.”

The 14 contractors said former Defense Forces chief Francis Ogolla and Defense Principal Secretary Patrick Mariru assured them of payment immediately after completing the works.

“This gave us the comfort and security we needed to deploy all the human, material and financial resources at our disposal in a very short time to ensure the delivery of services,” Mercy Meria, director of FloLizz Contractors Limited, told MPs.

“To date, we have only received 17 percent of our payments through China Wu Yi, who also informed us in a meeting… on March 12, 2024 that our full payments were dependent on them receiving full payment of 3.2 billion shillings. .”

Local subcontractors told the committee that China Wu Yi said they had received Sh550 million of the alleged Sh3.2 billion contract.

The 14 subcontractors said they did 80 percent of the renovation work, while China Wu Yi did 20 percent. “Our businesses are now under pressure because we have been exposed to our suppliers and financiers. Some of us have received demand letters while others are about to be auctioned,” he said.

The subcontractors said they were surprised to learn that the cost of the project approved by Parliament was Sh1.94 billion and not Sh3.2 billion.