Disappearing equipment? Controversy over Sh50 million medical donation meant for rural hospitals

Disappearing equipment? Controversy over Sh50 million medical donation meant for rural hospitals

Publiceret dato: 
11.09.2016

A storm is brewing over the confiscation of medical equipment donation worth millions of shillings at the Port of Mombasa, and which are meant for rural hospitals in Rachuonyo, Homa Bay County.

Hans Frederik Dydensborg, the president of the charity organisation, Global Medical Aid, shipped the donation valued at Sh50 million from Copenhagen, Denmark. But the equipment are yet to reach the intended needy beneficiaries.

Hans sent the donation through Kisumu Central MP, Ken Obura’s foundation on December 3, 2014.

The consignment arrived at the Port of Mombasa a month later for clearance by a firm owned by Nyali MP Awiti Bolo. That’s as far as it got.

Hans had to fly to Kenya on June 27 to confront Ken Obura over the non-clearance of the medical equipment sent through his Ken Obura Foundation.

“They asked for donation and I shipped a container of medical equipment. They acknowledged receipt and said the equipment had been distributed to hospitals,” said an agitated Hans, adding that, “It was when I demanded proof to ascertain the equipment were in use that the story changed. Now they claim they have not picked the container from the port,” explained Hans, who claims he contacted Obura’s personal assistant upon landing and was told the MP was in the Bahamas.

Hans tried to visit the indicated address of the foundation’s offices in Westlands but could not locate them.

“No one seems to know them. I realised I am dealing with a briefcase outfit. I went to Parliament and was told that MP Obura is in the country and has not gone to Bahamas. He is just avoiding me,” said Hans.

The Nairobian visited Ken Obura Foundation offices with Hans and realised the organisation is not located at Surveyors Court, Woodvale Grove in Westlands as had been indicated. But Hon Obura denied claims that he is avoiding Hans.

“My foundation is not involved in any monkey business or underhand dealings,” said Obura. He also denied that John Odullah works for his foundation as Programmes Officer, contrary to emails bearing his name and designation. “Odullah is a friend and senior person in the NGO world. He has a big heart and wants to help the community. That’s why he partnered with my foundation to request for the donations,” said Obura.

Odullah says he met Hans through a mutual friend at his workplace, an international NGO and “I explained to Frederik (Hans) what I wanted and he agreed to help me, but to avoid the donation of medical equipment being politicised, I introduced him to my MCA and governor,” he explains.

Email correspondence in our possession reveal that the Ken Obura Foundation applied for tax emption from the Treasury, but the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) refused and “are demanding tax in the tune of Sh7 million for the equipment. That’s a huge amount for a foundation I fund out of my pocket,” said Obura.

Hans claims that the Ken Obura Foundation should sort out the tax issue since they did not indicate that tax was to be levied on the donation when Odullah wrote to Hans in 2014 that the donation to Ken Obura Foundation would oversee “onward distribution to hospitals in Kenya in support of sick and poor people in the villages.”

Hans then travelled to Kenya the same month to do due diligence on the hospitals that were to receive the equipment.

“I went to several hospitals and found them lacking in many aspects. I flew back and shipped a container to Kenya,” adds Hans.

The clearing agents and KRA are holding the container. The penalty has accrued to Sh5.12 million as at four months ago.

“The Ken Obura Foundation hereby transfers, irrevocably and without any condition, all rights regarding the said container to Global Medical Aid,” read an email from the Ken Obura Foundation.

“Why did they claim they had cleared and distributed the equipment? My organisation has no money since the medical equipment was also donated to us, which we in turn donated to people who need them,” explains Hans.