A storm has erupted in the Busia County’s ministry of trade, cooperatives and industry over an unsecured tender involving millions of shillings to install chicken incubators for some of the county’s cooperative societies.
Emerging details indicate that the producer who was contracted to produce, supply and install the incubators by the Director Engokho Kuku Farmer, Gervase Wakoli lost more than Kshs. 1 million after successfully installing three sample incubators.
The conspiracy it has since been revealed was initially engineered by former CeC Hillary Makhulu, his then Chief Officer Gregg Akide and a number of Women Groups from within Busia town.
This was the first phase of the project in which the county’s ministry is known to also have lost an un-known amount of millions of shillings after the ministry’s CeC Makhulu allegedly withdrew Wakoli’s Local Purchase Order (LPO) in the year 2014.
According to Wakoli a son of a Bungoma County politician Makhulu asked him to return the LPO that had been handed to him so that he could be given a bigger one to cover the first three he had installed complete with generators and water towers and additional 50 others.
However, this was not to be as none nor any requisition order was filled and signed to that effect.
The incubators were installed in the Rest Estate area in Busia town along the Busia – Kisumu highway in individuals’ homes as directed by Mr. Akide instead of plots secured by cooperatives registered with the county’s ministry of cooperative development or registered Women Groups.
However after surrendering the LPO to Makhulu, Akide to whom Wakoli was referred by Makhulu started taking him on a roller-coaster hide and seek game until the expiry of the first term of the Busia county government to date.
He said: “The situation got so bad that despite my repeated endless journeys to Mr. Akide’s office and always getting bouncing appointments with the Chief Officer constantly always claiming that he was too busy to attend to me it all exploded on a stone wall when he now totally refused to answer my calls or respond to my communications.”
This brings into question why Akide as the Chief Accounting Officer did not issue a new LPO to Mr. Wakoli for the bigger order involving 50 more high-tech chicken incubators meant for Cooperative Societies and Women Groups belonging to chicken farmers in the county?
Procedurally the LPO that was given to Wakoli was strictly meant to cover the three sample incubators he had already installed and the backbone for any payment he was to receive from the ministry for that job without which he had completely nothing legal on which to base demand payment for the job done.
Any other further orders were to be covered by another LPO all of which must include what they are for, the quantities involved and the total amount of money due for payment for the job done as specified in the specific LPO.
Matters seem to have hit a complete dead end after when the trade and cooperatives minister Hillary Makhulu and Akide were suspended indefinitely over the alleged loss of more than Kshs. 43 million that the ministry had advanced to Mulwanda Cooperatives Union for the revival of the stalled Mulwanda Ginnery in 2015.
The matter which was raised in stormy sessions by the then Busia County Assembly Members (MCAs) who passed a motion for their suspension after Akide failed to convincingly respond to queries raised by them came to a conclusion last year after a team formed to investigate the matter cleared the duo before they were re-instated.
The incubator scandal begun to unfold in the year 2013 after Mr. Makhulu during an official tour of the Nairobi International Trade Fair at Jamhuri Park met Wakoli where he was displaying some of the agricultural machineries, equipment, tools and general hardware and agreed on an official appointment date for the producer to go to Busia.
“When I met Makhulu after giving a detailed demonstration and explanation on what we do he asked me to do an official proposal to do high-tech chicken incubators complete with generators and water towers for his ministry’s cooperatives department, which I did and submitted,” says Wakoli.
He says the County CeC told him to wait for a while until when the Chief Officers effectively took office, after which he introduced him to Akide as the implementing and accounting officer to take over adding that by the end of the projects he had delivered to Akide’s offices three invoices for the completed projects two of them for Kshs. 296, 960 each and the third one for Ksh 0.8million in March 2014 but has never been paid his money to date – (copies of some of the invoices are in our possesion).
Wakoli claims that on one occasion he bought two air-tickets for Makhulu and another person from Nairobi to Busia whom he (Makhulu) claimed was his colleague since he was working on the Engokho Kuku Farmer project.
On the other hand Akide demanded for a 300 eggs incubator complete with a generator and water tank which was installed at his home in Matayos previously he had purchased a smaller one of 49 eggs at Kshs. 15, 000.
That was just the beginning of Wakoli’s woeful nightmares at the hands of the ministry’s Chief Accounting Officer.
Contacted for comment Makhulu says: “I know Mr. Wakoli and his innovative works and indeed it is me who welcomed him to the County, asked him to do the proposal for the samples and officially introduced and handed him over to Akide for the implementation processes to begin.”
He says that periodically he was briefed by Akide about the development progress of the project but all he was told until his departure from the ministry was that it was still at the pilot level and nothing beyond that.
The CeC was shocked to learn that actually Wakoli had gone ahead and successfully produced three sample high-tech incubators of which he was not informed as the boss of the ministry.
“Let Akide carry his own cross because as the CeC I was supposed to be given detailed progress of the project from start to completion to enable me report to the county cabinet of the same,” he said.
The then high-flying Akide was bundled out of the Kenya Union of Societies and Credit Cooperatives (KUSCCO) as General Manager under highly controversial circumstances, went in limbo for many years before emerging at the Busia County Government.
He conceded that indeed Wakoli’s company did supply at least one complete incubator unit of more than 600 eggs capacity through the county government which was installed for Wanambuzi Farmers Group which also included training sessions for the group’s members some of which he attended.
However, Angaza News has established that this unit was sold by one of the members of the group called Hendrika who pocketed the proceeds under questionable circumstances.
The Chief Officer however denies knowledge of any other units particularly the other two Wakoli insists he supplied with the full involvement of Makhulu and Akide to the extent that one of the units was once stored at Makhulu’s private residence in Busia town before being transferred to the installation site.
“The only major problem is that all this business was done without following the laid done procedures of doing business with the government at a transition from the old to the new procedures currently in place hence making it impossible to make any payments,” says Mr. Akide.
He says that at one time he had received communication from a certain Debt Collector Group representing Wakoli’s firm, but referred them to the County Secretary who is the legal county government representative in such matters.
However as Makhulu is telling Akide to carry his cross, the latter is insisting that these transactions took place when the Chief Officers had not effectively taken over management when the CeCs were still calling the shots.