Top health bosses put under pressure over graft scandal: Top Ministry of Health officials were on Thursday asked to take responsibility over the loss of Sh5 billion, part of which was meant to fund free maternity services in public hospitals. The Senate Health Committee, which is chaired by Dr Wilfred Machage, said Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu and Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri must appear before it to explain how the billions of shillings were paid irregularly to ghost companies and individuals. The money was paid through manipulation of the Integrated Financial Management Information System (Ifmis). Some of it is suspected to have been lost through double payments while some was paid without proper documentation. Dr Mailu and Dr Muraguri, who had been summoned to appear before the Senate committee on Thursday, did not turn up, saying they had been given short notice.
Driver who got Sh346 million from the NYS: MPs were yesterday baffled at how a driver received more than Sh346 million, part of the funds looted from the National Youth Service (NYS), but still retained his job. Despite his immense newly found wealth, Mr John Kago, who told the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee on Thursday that he is a driver at the Kenya Commercial Bank, kept his job, earning Sh15,000 a month. “I am a driver at KCB, but I am on suspension and half salary due to the NYS scandal in which my name has been mentioned.” Mr Kago’s modest looks could easily deceive anyone meeting him for the first time. He, however, owns a fleet of luxury motor vehicles, including a top-end Range Rover that set him back Sh23 million, a Mercedes Benz, Toyota Land Cruiser and a Toyota Fielder, all which he uses in his car hire business.
Man shot dead after US embassy attack: A man was yesterday shot dead at the gate of the US Embassy after he stabbed a police officer before attempting to grab his firearm. The attacker stabbed the General Service Unit officer in the head and right hand before he was gunned down. Dressed in a dark blue jeans and grey sweat-shirt, he pretended to be passing by the Visa section gate when he attacked the officer. Gigiri OCPD Vitalis Otieno said the suspect hails from Wajir County but could not give his name. An eye witness said he saw the man attack the officer to ground and that the officer, however, managed to shoot and kill his attacker.
Cover-up? Files in Sh5b Health scam now missing: The Sh5.3 billion scandal at Afya House has taken a new twist after it emerged that registration details of companies involved in the transactions have gone missing from the State Law Office. Staff at the Companies Registry were yesterday unable to trace the files for Estama Investments, registered as an EPZ company, and Life Care Medics. The two companies were beneficiaries of cash meant for patients, expectant mothers and new-born babies. Records of a third supplier, Medafrica, were non-existent, raising questions about its identity. Without the files, it becomes impossible to unmask the people behind what may turn out to be the biggest scandal in the Jubilee administration.
Here’s more good news for teachers: Teachers ended an eventful week with more good news after the Government excused them from their work stations when national examinations begin next week. Yesterday, the Government rescinded an earlier order requiring all teachers to be in their schools, and directed that only those administering examinations will be on duty. At the same time, teachers’ unions Knut and Kuppet emerged as big winners after the signing of the historic Collective Bargaining Agreement, as they will now get agency fees from the 65,000 teachers who are not their members. Yesterday, Knut Secretary General Wilson Sossion explained that teachers who were not in the union would be expected to pay a monthly fee that is a percentage of their basic pay since they, too, will enjoy the fruits of the pay deal.
Silver lining for Kenya Airways?: National carrier Kenya Airways cut its losses by more than half to Sh4.8 billion in the six months to September raising hopes that it may be flying out of its turbulence. The airline, which posted a Sh11.9 billion loss over a similar period in 2015, in one of its worst performances, attributed the improved performance to an increase in the number of passengers and lower cost of operations after the downsizing of its fleet. The airline, however, saw a dip in its revenues, which declined to Sh54 billion in the six months period to September 30, down from Sh56 billion. This was due to reduced number of airplanes after its fleet rationalisation that left the firm with a fleet of largely narrow body planes, reducing the amount of cargo hauled during the period.
Uhuru allies anxious over Super Alliance: Thirteen years after the Narc alliance toppled the Kanu regime, the opposition’s proposed National Super Alliance, NASA, has sent shock waves through Jubilee. A NASA onslaught by all key opposition leaders would complicate President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election strategy. The vaunted mega Jubilee Party already is plagued by squabbling over powerful interim posts and its headquarters is yet to be operational. There’s strength in numbers and opposition leaders say unity is the best way to galvanise supporters and defeat JP. The NASA name is so compelling that three applications to reserve the name National Super Alliance have been submitted to the Registrar of Political Parties. This indicates the interest and anxiety the movement has generated.
Senate wants PS Muraguri to resign over Sh5bn saga: The Senate Health Committee has told Health PS Nicholas Muraguri to resign over the unaccounted for Sh5 billion. It has been reported the amount was stolen by the ministry’s officials through manipulation of the Integrated Financial Management System and double payments. The file of Estama Investment Ltd, said to have received Sh200 million, has gone missing at the Registrar of Companies in Sheria House. Muraguri and Health CS Cleopa Mailu snubbed a meeting with the committee, in which they were to shed light on the alleged mega scandal said to be five times that of the Sh791 million NYS theft. Yesterday the CS and the PS said they will appear next Tuesday, because the invitation came late on Wednesday.
Could Saudi Prince’s representative be an ISIS recruiter?: A businessman who has been handling the Sh21 billion 100,000-acre agricultural project in Galana for the prince of Saudi is now facing terror charges after being accused of recruiting Kenyan youth for ISIL. Hassan Babakar Osman, Prince Sultan Bin Nasser Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud’s local agent, is being held at Muthaiga police station on the orders of Milimani magistrate Helen Onkwani as officers investigate. Although he has not been formally charged in court, police got orders to hold him for 14 days while they investigate allegations of his links to terror groups, days before a criminal case against his business partners was scheduled to be heard.
Nakumatt seeks deep pocketed investor to buy 25 per cent stake: Retail chain Nakumatt is closing in on a deal to sell a significant stake to a strategic investor in what insiders said is part of a plan to retire the supermarket chain’s rising debt burden. Nakumatt, which is Kenya’s biggest retail chain with 61 stores across East Africa, said talks were at an “advanced stage” to sell a 25 per cent stake or more to an investor. Nakumatt said its owners were on course to finalising the share sale — which has been in the works since 2009 — in a matter of weeks.
Business as usual at Afya House as MPs demand action: It was business as usual at the Ministry of Health headquarters in Nairobi even as pressure mounted on top officials to leave office over the multi-billion shilling scandal that dominated newspaper headlines this week. The anatomy of the Sh5 billion Afya House scam was revealed in a leaked internal audit report showing how money meant for critical health sector programmes such as free maternity and HIV/Aids control were diverted to other budget lines and pocketed by senior ministry officials. Afya House insiders said Health secretary Cleopa Mailu and his Principal Secretary, Nicholas Muraguri, yesterday reported to work as usual and sat through a series of meetings where corruption dominated the discussions.
Uber slashes taxi fees in turf war with Safaricom’s Little: American online taxi hailing company Uber has slashed its charges in Mombasa just days after Safaricom-backed rival, Little, announced its entry into the coastal city. The new charges that took effect Thursday will see the San Francisco-based e-hailing firm charge riders Sh35 per kilometre down from Sh50. The firm has also reduced its charges per minute by Sh2 to Sh3 and cut the pricing of short rides by Sh100 to Sh150. Base fare and cancellation fees were also cut by Sh30 to Sh50 and Sh200 to Sh150, respectively. The new rates come three months after the firm slashed Nairobi prices by a third. The firm cut the app’s per-kilometre cost to Sh35 from Sh60, and lowered per minute transit charges by Sh1 to Sh3, but left the minimum charge intact at Sh100.
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