The State Department for Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET) under the Ministry of Education is on the spotlight of the controversial award of three contracts for upgrading of three TVETs all awarded to a single firm, EPCO Builders Limited, The Informer Media Group can authoritatively reveal.
The trio contracts segmented into three lots are under a development programme financed by the government of Germany through KfW Development Bank.
The project is dubbed as TVET 1 – Promotion of Youth Employment and Vocational Training, under the contracts for NCB-01/MOE-VTT/TVET/KfW 2016 67 211/001/2021-2022.
They are for construction of workshop and dormitories for Thika Technical Training Institute (TTTI), Kiambu Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) and the Nairobi Technical Training Institute (NTTI).
“The process was not above board. The procuring entity should come clean on the tendering process. There are allegations of prior insider information and canvassing.” An insider intimated.
When contacted for comment, EPCO Builders Limited Managing Director Ramji Varsani did not respond to either short text messages, phone calls and questions sent via mail.
However, both Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu and Dr.Esther Thaara Muoria, Princiapal Secretary State Department for Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET) were not reachable for comment.
According to documents seen by The Informer Media Group, Lot 1 is under Thika Technical Training Institute and entails construction of workshop and dormitories.
The specifications include; workshop measuring 3650m2, generator house measuring 35m2, dormitories 2350m2, access roads, parking, boundary wall, landscaping and drainage.
Lot 2 is under Kiambu Institute of Science & Technology and involves construction of a workshop and dormitories specified as workshop measuring 5150m2, generator house~35m2, dormitories 2000m2, access roads, parking, boundary wall, landscaping and drainage.
On the other hand, Lot 3 is conceived under the Nairobi Technical Training Institute and involves construction of a workshop only measuring 3000m2, generator house measuring 35m2, access roads, parking, boundary wall, landscaping and drainage.
According to official records, out of the nine bidders, five companies placed bids for all the three lots, while two others placed bids for Lot 1 and Lot 3 and the remaining two companies placed bids for Lot 1 and Lot 2 respectively.
Besides EPCO Builders Limited, other bidders were; Centura Limited, Benris Investments Limited, Jasir Contractors Limited, Black Wood Limited, Parbat Siyani Construction Limited, Levin Services Limited, Lunao Enterprises Limited and Topchoice Surveillance Limited.
In 2021, Epco Builders Limited signed a Sh20billion deal with the government for construction of 5,360 houses in Mavoko, Machakos County, under the Mavoko Affordable Housing Programme.
The Mavoko Affordable Housing Programme is a partnership between Kenya and the UN Habitat aimed at providing affordable homes to low and middle-income earners.
Housing and Urban Development Principal Secretary Charles Hinga said the project, which sits on a 55-acre parcel of land in Mavoko, will be completed in four years.
The Mavoko housing project is expected to deliver 960 one-bedroom units, 2,400 two-bedroom units, 1,440 three-bedroom units, and 560 studio units.
In December last year, president William Ruto visited the site in Syokimau to launch the project.
EPCO Builders Limited is not new to controversy.
On May 8, 2019, a building under construction by EPCO Builders Limited collapsed killing one person and injuring six others into what was suspected to be poor workmanship at Kemeloi Polytechnic, a technical and vocational training (Tvet) institute in Nandi County.
Edwin Lubaga, 35, died while being rushed to Kapsabet Level Five Hospital due to serious injuries he sustained after “a beam supporting a building” that was under construction broke, forcing the building to collapse.
According to a police report filed before Nadi Hills DCIO office, the incident was reported by Vitalis Ouma on the same day.
Police records show among those injured were Daniel Kirwa (34), Kenneth Abisa (40), Collins (37), Charles Keter (41), Geoffrey Kibet (39) and Jackson Kizavuli (44).
They were rushed to the same hospital, treated and discharged.
However, the report does not indicate whether the victims of the collapsed building were workers at the site.
Epco Builders Ltd had been contracted by the State Department of Vocational and Technical Training under the Ministry of Education, to construct a multibillion-shilling structure at Kemeloi Polytechnic.