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Chinese company spent Sh1.3 billion on 5 SGR engineers : The Standard

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An SGR passenger locomotive engine pulls passenger wagons from Mombasa in 2017. [File, Standard]

China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) splashed over Sh1.3 billion on maintaining five Kenya Railways engineers supervising the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway, tender documents show.

Among the items bought for the five, together with their helpers who were also Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) staff, were fat allowances, mobile phones and airtime.
Housing and offices for the engineers was budgeted at Sh544 million besides the personal remuneration in the country’s biggest infrastructure project yet.
Collectively, the engineers attached to the five camps along the different sections were provided with Sh385 million that would cover overtime and supervision costs.

SEE ALSO :Kenyans to pay billions to use JKIA-Westlands road

Ordinarily, seconded employees would still be on their usual salaries from their employer.
Tender documents for the Sh372 billion-worth line connecting Mombasa and Nairobi have provided a rare peak into the costing of the controversial project.
Nduva Muli, the then KRC Managing Director, entered two contracts with the Chinese contractor in July and October 2012 for Sh220 billion and $1.15 billion (Sh115 billion), respectively, which were then collectively worth Sh316 billion.

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The documents, which have been under lock and key, have surfaced in a petition filed by rights activist Okiya Omtatah at the Court of Appeal.
He has petitioned the court to declare the two tenders awarded for the construction of the line and the other for supply of rolling stock irregular.
Further, Omtatah is praying for the judges to rule that the loans taken to fund the SGR be recovered from the individuals who negotiated the loans and not from the Exchequer.
He has cited various incidents where the costs were overly inflated in the bill of quantities (BQs) used by CRBC in the tendering process.
It is in the BQs where the anticipated costs worth Sh1.3 billion for maintaining the supervising engineers is captured.
The single largest cost item worth Sh72 million was budgeted for the payment of “attendant staff” of the engineers, possibly in salaries or allowances.
CRBC planned to spend some Sh42.9 million on “payment of overtime to the engineer’s junior staff”.
The contractor also budgeted another Sh30 million in lump sum pay to engineers as superintendence costs and a further Sh30 million to cover miscellaneous expenses.
That is beside a further Sh7.6 million, which would be set aside to pay for temporary accommodation, likely in instances when they cannot make it to the provided houses in the camps for the night.
Construction of the SGR was done in sections over the 480-kilometre stretch with different teams, each with a supervising engineer from KRC, working on the respective parts.
Engineers were allowed a host of staff, including drivers for the 4X4 pick-up trucks they were assigned and trainees.
CRBC planned a Sh12 million kitty from where the allowances of trainee counterpart from KRC or any other relevant government officer would be paid from.
Telephone costs for the engineers were budgeted at Sh5 million, including 20 mobile phones each costing Sh50,000, fixed telephone lines to their residences on site connected at Sh120,000 and the Sh3.6 million in airtime.
Residences for the KRC staff were constructed from a budget of nearly Sh200 million, with the senior-most temporary officials’ homes built at Sh3 million. Monthly maintenance costs for the accommodation of the engineers’ home was projected at Sh12,274.
It is unclear what the maintenance costs of the residences would include but might consist of cleaning and housekeeping.
A total of Sh48 million was budgeted for maintenance of the KRC staff accommodation for the period of the railway construction.
Costs of keeping the supervising engineers on site are among the outstanding cost items in the tender documents, which also show that CRBC would build a 60-cubic-metre water tank at Sh4.8 million and purchase washing machines at Sh160,000 apiece. 

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China Road and Bridge CorporationKenya Railways engineersStandard Gauge RailwayKenya Railways Corporation

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World Bank Gives Financial Aid to More African Countries

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The World Bank has approved different amounts of loans to various African countries, to help them mitigate the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

The World Bank Group, through the International Development Association (IDA), has approved $47 million for DRC’s emergency response to the pandemic.

The funds will be used to implement containment strategies, train medical personnel, and distribute equipment to ensure rapid testing of potential cases and contact tracing.

Senegal

On the other hand, Senegal will receive a total of $20 million credit from the International Development Association (IDA) to help it strengthen health systems and disease surveillance as part of the national COVID-19 response plan.

Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone will receive a $7.5 million International Development Association (IDA) grant to help them strengthen national systems for public health preparedness.

According to the Bank’s press release dated 2nd April 2020, in order to provide broader support to meet country needs, they will deploy up to $160 billion over 15 months to protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery.

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World Bank COVID-19 Funding. Image Courtesy; The Telegraph

International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank, is contributing $8 billion in financing aimed at helping businesses affected by the pandemic and protecting jobs.

See Also:

African Economies Suffer $29 Billion Hit Due to COVID-19

Afrexim Bank Unveils Emergency Fund for African Countries

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KWS reverses park entry fees increase after uproar

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OTIATO GUGUYU

By OTIATO GUGUYU
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The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Tuesday withdrew a notice increasing park fees by up to 300 percent for Kenyans across the country from July following public uproar.

KWS said in a statement that the higher fees had been suspended. Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala earlier termed the Business Daily report of the park fees hike misleading.

The March 30 notice announcing the date when the new higher rates would take effect was linked to an October 18 notification from Mr Balala.

The higher fees drew protest from Kenyans on social media who argued that the timing was wrong, citing the effect of coronavirus-related travel restrictions on Kenya’s tourism sector.

“This is to inform the public that KWS in consultation with Ministry of Tourism has suspended the implementation of the new rates until further notice due to the prevailing circumstances occasioned by the coronavirus,” said KWS in a statement.

Kenya has confirmed 172 cases of the coronavirus pandemic that has hit the tourism sector with the borders closed and social distancing rules prompting hotel shutdowns.

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The new rates were to see locals pay Sh1,500 to visit Lake Nakuru and Amboseli national parks during the peak period and Sh800 during the off-peak period, up from the current Sh500. This reflected a 300 percent rise.

The Peak is between July and March and low season between April and June. Entry fees for locals in the Nairobi National Park were to go up to Sh1,500 and Sh800 during peak and off peak seasons respectively, up from Sh300.

Meru Park, Aberdare, Mt Kenya, Tsavo charges were to jump from Sh350 to Sh1,000 during the peak season and Sh400 the rest of the time.

Foreigners were to pay $70 in Nairobi National Park up from $40 in peak season, with off-peak rates remaining unchanged at $40.

At Amboseli and Lake Nakuru peak entry fees for foreigners were to be cut to $70 from the current $80 while off-peak charges were to drop from $60 to $40.

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Carrefour records Sh18.7bn sales in Kenya

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ANNIE NJANJA

By ANNIE NJANJA
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French retail chain Carrefour recorded sales worth Sh18.7 billion from its Kenyan outlets last year, the company has disclosed in its annual financial report.

Majid Al Futtaim, the exclusive holder of Carrefour’s franchise in Kenya, announced the 28 percent jump in sales from Sh14.6 billion recorded in 2018 indicating that its aggressive expansion bid across major towns in Kenya was paying off.

The retailer said since launching in Kenya four years ago, the franchise of the French hypermarket chain had grown faster than expected, attracting a strong clientele base among the country’s expanding middle class.

The retailer announced plans to continue the expansion of its retail and entertainment business across key markets, including in Africa.

“In 2020, Majid Al Futtaim Retail will open its first store in Uzbekistan, with plans for further expansion to new markets in Central Asia and Africa and scale up its e-commerce capacity to meet growing online demand, through innovative fulfilment solutions,” the group said in the report.

The retailer has been expanding its presence in Kenya after taking over spaces previously occupied by struggling supermarket chains, including Nakumatt and Uchumi, as well as opening new outlets to cash in on the underserved market.

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The retailer has seven branches in Kenya with the eighth one set to open on Uhuru Highway near Nyayo roundabout-taking over space previously occupied by the collapsed retailer Nakumatt.

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The branch, which was set to be opened before the end of March, has faced delays due to the current Covid-19 pandemic.

The retailer’s other branches are also strategically located at the Hub in Karen, Village Market, Two Rivers Mall, Thika Road Mall and Sarit Centre in Westlands.

One-time market leader Nakumatt, now under administration, and cash-strapped Uchumi, have shut the majority of their branches.

The gap left by the collapse of the two retailers has created a void in the sector that has local and international chains scrambling to fill.

The spirited entry into Kenya by multinational chain stores like Game and Shoprite is stiffening competition, pitting new players against the local family-owned retailers.

French firm Amethis recently bought a 30 percent stake in Naivas to back the expansion of the retailer.

Majid Al Futtaim made public its Kenya annual sales in a newly-released financial report that also puts its local assets as of December 2018 at Sh7.2 billion, up from Sh4.3 billion in December 2018.

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