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Court suspends tender award to set up giant food outlet at JKIA

The High Court has suspended a decision to award a tender to establish a multi-billion food outlet at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to a firm headed by Kamlesh Pattni.

Mr Justice George Odunga on Friday suspended a decision by the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board (PPARB) to award Suzan General JLT the deal.

He said Section 100 (1) of PPARB Act says the decision of the board is not final as it can be investigated by the high court.

Suzan General JLT was awarded the tender on December 18, 2014. However, a rival, Hoggers Ltd, challenged the award saying it was irregular.

In his ruling, Judge Odunga said the case is of great public interest.

He directed lawyer George Mbugua for Hodgers to serve Suzan General JLT the suit papers and return to court on January 15, for directions on the hearing date.

The judge rejected objection by Suzan General JLT to turn down the plea by Hoggers to suspend the tender award.

Judge Odunga said Kenya Airports Authority has not signed the contract as directed by the procurement review board.

FRESH REQUIREMENTS

Hoggers accused the airports authority of introducing fresh requirements when it allowed a repeat of the tendering following a successful appeal by Mr Pattni’s firm.

Hoggers had bagged the tender on May, 2014.

“I urge this court to put in abeyance the decision to award the tender to Suzan pending the hearing and determination of this case,” Mr Mbugua said.

He added that the decision of the review board can be challenged in court.

“I have filed the suit having been granted leave (permission) to challenge the decision of PPARB in court. I am ready to prosecute the case since the review board allowed Suzan to sign the contract within 15 days from December 18, last year,” Mr Mbugua said.

Expiry date of the 15-day period will be on January 3, 2015.

If Suzan signs the contract with the Kenya Airports Authority, it means machinery will be moved to site to start construction of the food outlet, noted Mr Mbugua.

‘FOREIGN EXCHANGE’

However, Suzan through its lawyer Daniel Ngacha opposed the order noting that it won it fairly.

Mr Ngacha said the sooner the project starts, the better since the airports authority will start earning revenue.

He said the suit is intended to delay the project and is therefore “a denial of foreign exchange.”

The lawyer said Suzan is ready with the design any time “it can move its machinery to commence the work.”

If the stay is granted, “it will eat into its (Suzan) timelines of commencing and finishing the multi-billion project.”

“KAA is not opposed to a stay being granted since it has not signed the contract,” lawyer Betty Kerubo for Kenya Airports Authority said.