An investigation by the National Construction Authority (NCA) in Kenya revealed that a Chinese firm was using forged government documents to get contracts. The NCA sub-committee is presently investigating the activities of the firm known as Third Engineering Bureau of China City Construction Group Company Limited. The company is banned from carrying out further activities until investigations are completed.
Below are the series of events trailing the ugly discovery.
On March 26, 2020, AllAfrica published a news article on the disaster that took place along Ahero-Kisii Road. A section of the road was cut off by heavy rainfall. Commuters who ply the road daily were stranded and according to the report, the tragic occurrence was a result of poor drainage. It also affected several houses and Property owners staying close to the road were evacuated to a nearby primary school for their safety.
— allAfrica.com (@allafrica) March 26, 2020
On March 30, 2020, another disaster struck when the Ahero-Katito bridge collapsed. The bridge was built by Third Engineering Bureau. This was the same company contracted to lay the Ahero-Kisii dual carriage road. The project was to cost the Kenyan National Highways Authority (KeNHA) Sh9 billion or (approx. $82 million).
According to reports from the NCA investigation, the Chinese company built the bridge in a hurry, while working on the Ahero-Katito highway. This was done without prior planning that would typically take into consideration possible environmental challenges.
Ahero-Katito Bridge Collapse Investigation
The collapse of the Ahero-Katito bridge was investigated by the NCA sub-committee headed by Maurice Akech. Officials of the Third Engineering Bureau were summoned before the committee on 20th September 2020. They were to present the annual practicing license and a contractor’s license before the committee. Both licenses can prove if the Chinese firm was operating according to the law. The documents were presented by the officials and the dates indicated that they were issued by the NCA on February 13, 2020.
The collapse of the Ahero-Katito bridge on March 30, 2020 set in motion a chain of events that now reveal that the Chinese contractor putting up a Sh9 billion road to Kisii forged National Construction Authority (NCA) documents to win government tenders.https://t.co/cXeWpCZg2p
— Nation Africa (@NationAfrica) February 18, 2021
However, further investigation by the NCA revealed that the documents were forgeries. Alongside these fake licenses, the officials also presented a different set of documents that were authentic. The sub-committee also found out that the Third Engineering Bureau was working on three other road construction projects without proper approvals. These are the Voi-Wundanyi, Mombasa Kwa Chungu, and Lodwar-Lookichar road projects.
At the end of their investigations, the NCA concluded that the Third Engineering Bureau of China City Construction Group Company Limited violated several laws. This includes poor planning, failure to seek the approval of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), failure to obtain relevant permits from the Nyando OCPD as well as failure to comply with the NCA Act and regulation 14 of the NCA Regulations 2014.
The recommendation of the NCA was that the officials should be prosecuted. Also, further investigations should be done to ascertain how the forged documents were obtained. While the investigation is on-going, the company is to suspend all construction activities.
The actions of the Third Engineering Bureau have a two-fold implication. First, it prevents qualified local contractors from winning significant government projects. Being a foreign company, the Third Engineering Bureau already has an advantage over local construction companies. However, through their actions, they have proven that indeed not all that glitters is gold.
Secondly, by neglecting to follow the right procedures, they put the lives of the public in danger. The collapse of the Ahero-Katito bridge was what it took to pry open the can of worms. One can’t help but wonder for how long they might have gone away with compromising the integrity of public structures and endangering the lives of unsuspecting citizens.
The use of forged documents by the Chinese firm is gross misconduct and chances are, such actions will not happen in their home country, China. It goes without telling that most foreign companies see Africa as a place where “anything goes”. This is evident in the strings of atrocities committed by foreign companies all across Africa. Thankfully, the NCA took decisive action to forestall further operations of the firm and prosecute its officials for their misconduct.
Still, African countries need to put more effort into checking the activities of foreign companies operating in the region. What punishment do you think should be meted for such offenses. Leave a comment below and let us know what your thoughts are.