Fresh details have emerged how a senior procurement boss at the Ministry of Housing is at the heart of a multi-million scandal involving tenderpreneurship cartels in the lucrative ministry.
Ms Hilda Kaaria, recently exposed by weekly newspaper Citizen Weekly for how she has frustrated pre-qualified suppliers and her colleague managers in the ministry is facing a new storm over kickbacks she receives from every supplier wishing to be given a tender.
Sources at the ministry have also told Kurunzi how user departments are being frustrated whenever they make requisitions for procurement, saying”she will not respond to a request if she does not have interest or does not see how she will benefit”.
“She will keep the request and toss you around until you become desperate and seek to have her dictate how the requisition will be processed,” the source tells Kurunzi on condition of anonymity, adding that she has her own companies which do supplies for everything below KSh1 million.
“These are companies of her friends and maybe family which will always get those tenders that can be single-sourced, mostly anything of upto KSh500,000 would not require the (tender) committee sitting.”
Allegedly, she is working in cahoots with the personal assistant to principal secretary Charles Hinga, who is often not even aware, to cut deals.
“The PA will come around and scare people that the PS has interest in this or that tender yet the boss is not even aware of those dealings,” the source adds.
According to multiple sources, in addition to the PS’s PA James Wahome, she is also working in cahoots with a Ms Beatrice Amiru, who is another of her hatchet men.
“This is the one who cuts the deals and executes them on her behalf because the rest of the people do not approve of her shady deals.”
Fellow managers are now worried that they are likely to fail in delivering key projects, especially within the universal housing pillar of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s legacy plan.
Apparently, she has already taken kickbacks from interested suppliers who bid for the 52 tenders recently advertised by the ministry in the official government newspaper – My Gov – in its Issue No. 40/2019-2020 published on 14 April 2020.
A pre-qualified merchant at the ministry says they wonder how companies without proper documentation and “even some who never even don’t show up during tender opening end up getting awarded tenders they cannot deliver”.
“As long as you give her 10% kickback upfront then you will be given a tender. Sadly some companies have been delisted from tenders thay had been awarded because of refusing to yiled to her (Ms Kaaria’s) demands for kickbacks,” the contractor says.
“She is always avoiding contractors wishing to know why their bids have been revoked. She says she will only see contractors on Fridays but even then she will not have any meetings.
“Anasema contractors wanachafua ofisi yake na wengine wao wananuka jasho so anawatuma kwa junior officers ambao hawana habari ni nini kinaendelea,” another contractor tells Kurunzi.
Suppliers are now threatening to expose her by giving evidence against her before the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the Director of Public Prosecutions; agencies they want to investigate her for abuse of office and corruption.
Kurunzi has established that her stint at the ODPP was headlined by incompetency and favoritism, with some of those who worked with her during former DPP Keriako Tobiko’s tenure describe her as “lazy and incompetent”. Tobiko is now Cabinet Secretary for Environment and has been cited as the force behind her arrogance.
Kurunzi understands that she has been severally warned by Treasury operatives and mandarins who are wary of how she “throws around the names of bossess” in her dealings.
The rank and file of the Treasury is very concerned and she might soon be recalled if the investigators would not have come for her because her conduct has been marked at Treasury,” a source privy to the goings-on at Treasury tells this reporter.
Ms Kaaria has, according to a report in the Weekly Citizen, acquired several properties in the city, including apartments and high-end vehicles allegedly estimated to be worth more than KSh100 million in her short stint at the ministry.
She has been the Manager (Supply Chain Services) at the ministry of Housing for close to 18 months.