A US$6 million tender awarded to construction firm SEO & Sons for the construction of the Mandera Airport has been cancelled over alleged forgery claims.
Kenya Airports Authority says it cancelled the tender for Mandera Airport following a due diligence on the firm which revealed that it used forged documents to claim that it had carried out other huge projects on behalf of the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA).
But SEO & Sons has however gone to court and wants the High Court to overturn the decision to cancel the tender, arguing that the KAA had no authority to carry out due diligence after entering into a contract with the firm.
The company also says the Kenya Airports Authority has not formally given reasons for cancelling the Mandera Airport tender. The authority is yet to formally respond to the case.
“That KAA in purporting to carry out a due diligence on SEO & Sons after it had entered into a contract with SEO & Sons is an abrogation of the Public Procurement and Disposal Act.
Sections 66 (2) and (3) relied upon by the KAA to terminate the contract make the contract voidable where the bidder has been involved in fraudulent practice. There has been no evidence given to SEO & Sons as proof that it was found guilty of fraudulent practices,” the firm says.
The tender had initially been awarded to another firm, Alwahab Enterprises, after holding that SEO & Sons didn’t meet the all the requirement for the successful bidder to have an annual turnover of at least Sh300 million.
SEO & Sons however successfully challenged the decision at the Public Procurement Administrative and Review Board (PPARB) which ruled that it had attained the lowest evaluated bid thus qualified for the multi-million-shilling deal.
Alwahab went to court seeking to reclaim the tender but Justice George Odunga in June ruled in favour of the PPARB, hence paving the way for SEO & Sons to take the deal.
Following the ruling, Alwahab wrote to the KAA, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission claiming that SEO & Sons used forged references from KeNHA to bag the tender.
However SEO & Sons now says Alwahab withdrew its case but the Kenya Airports Authority went on with the probe and consequently terminate the tender.
SEO & Sons says it has already moved to site and spent Sh80 million to commence construction. The company argues that only the Public Procurement Oversight Authority (PPOA) has power to probe the conduct of a bidder, and not the KAA.
“The KAA has not notified SEO & Sons of any complaint it may have received regarding its conduct in the said procurement process. The KAA has not afforded SEO & Sons an opportunity to be heard on the said allegations.
To my knowledge, no charge has been levelled against the applicant by the PPOA, nor has the applicant been investigated nor found culpable by the PPOA of any fraud,” says Samow Edin Osman, the SEO & Sons managing director.