Kenya’s plans to modernise its international airport which would make the country an attractive destination and investment hub in the East African region have hit a snag, following a row over the tendering bid.
Kenya’s Transport minister Amos Kimunya, is to be investigated over a controversy surrounding the alleged cancellation of a 56 billion shillings ($66 million) contract to modernize the country’s largest airport, the Jomo Kenyatta international Airport (JKIA).
Parliaments Speaker Kenneth Marende has directed three House committees on Transport, Budget and Finance to investigate the matter in 14 days, find the problem and ensure the modernization project remains on track.
Marende said Kenya risks being left behind as other countries like South Africa, Rwanda and Ethiopia pursue plans to modernise their airports, to attract trade and investment.
Kimunya has been investigated and indicted before by parliamentary committees. In 2009, he was forced to resign as minister for Finance over the secret sale of the Grand Regency Hotel to Libyans. Early this month he was blamed for the cancellation of a multi-billion shilling money-printing contract which made the government loss Sh1.8 billion ($21 million).
Legislators have questioned why Kimunya canceled a procurement contract which had been cleared by the attorney general and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.
Kimunya however maintains that no contract is in existence since the Kenya Airports Authority met in February this year and stopped the procurement process.
“The project cost had moved from the estimated maximum of $500 million to $653 million, and no approval had been sought from the board. So far, there’s no agreement with the contractor and since there are no signed contracts, we do not anticipate the government to incur any loss.” said Kimunya.
The JKIA airport is the biggest Airport in East and Central Africa, and is the focal point for major aviation activity in the region. Its importance as an aviation centre makes it the pacesetter for other airports in the region.
The airport was constructed to handle 2.5 million passengers but plans to modernise and expand kicked off after it began receiving more than 4 million visitors annually.