Logistics Firm Siginon Group on Monday broke its silence following public outrage after reports emerged that 6.1 tonnes of drugs worth Ksh180 million donated to Kenya to help fight 5 different diseases among women and children expired after the authorities failed to pay a clearance fee of Ksh5 million.
Signion Group had been contracted by the Ministry of Health to clear the cargo but dilly-dallying by the parties involved led to the expiry of the 2, 280,000 doses of Pentavalent Vaccine donated to Kenya by the Serum Institute of India and brought into the country in 2017.
The vaccine also known as five-inone prevents five major diseases- haemophilus influenza type b — the bacteria that causes menengitis, pneumonia, ear infection, diptheria, whooping cough, hepatitis b and tetanus.
In a statement on Monday Siginon Group Managing Director Meshack Kipturgo confirmed the contractual agreement between itself and the Ministry of Health and faulted the latter for failing to honour its part of the bargain “which led to the company being financially stretched and affected its ability to clear the shipment in question”.
“We have successfully handled MoH shipments over the years and meeting third party costs i.e disbursing on their behalf. Despite making the disbursements on behalf of MoH, the invoices due remained unsettled and no refunds made some over two years,” said Mr Kipturgo.
“This greatly incapacitated our service offering to MoH, as it stretched our financial capacity beyond the limit indicated in the contract. This further affected our ability to clear the shipment in question. The matter was brought to the attention of MoH officials but no action was taken,” added Mr Kipturgo.
According to the initial reports, the MoH could have spent less than Ksh5 million had it facilitated the clearance of the goods on time but the costs have increased to Ksh30 million due to the defaulted payments.
Swissport Warehouses located at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) want the drugs destroyed to free up space.
The Pharmacy and Poisons Board which is mandated to ensure the safety of Kenyans in this context on the other hdand wants the drugs destroyed as fast as possible before they are relabeled and sold in the market.
In the statement on Monday, Mr. Kipturgo also reitereated his company’s position stating that it is not Signion’s responsibility to ensure the drugs are destroyed.
“As a customs clearing agent, we handle goods on behalf of our clients. It is therefore not within our control or authority to determine how, when or where the destruction should be conducted,” stressed Mr Kipturgo.
“This is purely the domain of MoH, the terminal shed. However, we are available to support the process as and when required to the full extent of our capacity,” he added.
The government is also playing hardball and has maintained the responsibility lies with Signion to ensure that the drugs are destroyed.
However, for the consignment to be destroyed, the parties involved i.e MoH and Signion have to foot the costs together which amount to Ksh30 per kilogramme in this instance.