Dar es Salaam. Was sacked home affairs minister Kangi Lugola and the ministry’s other top officials taken for a ride in the euros 408 billion (Sh1 trillion) firefighting and emergency rescue equipment contract?
- Is Rom Solutions, the company with which the government reportedly entered the lucrative contract Romanian?
- Was due diligence carried out by relevant authorities as the law requires before the company was invited to tender for the supply of the equipment?
These are some of the questions that emerge following efforts by The Citizen to unravel the truth in the apparent scandalous contract and unmask the individuals behind the deal.
This was the contract that brought to a halt Mr Lugola’s 17 months stay in cabinet before he was fired in public by President John Magufuli who was incensed at the signing of the said contract. President Magufuli also questioned its veracity.
Other than Mr Lugola, the ministry’s permanent secretary brigadier Jacob Kingu and the commissioner general for the fire rescue force Thobias Andengenye lost their jobs over their role in clearing the contract. Mr Kingu has since been appointed ambassador, seen as a respite for voluntarily resigning when the matter was raised. Currently, the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) is probing the contract on orders of the President and a string of people, including the sacked top officials have been interrogated. PCCB promised to go the whole hog to establish what happened.
The Citizen’s own inquiries, however, shows that there is more than meets the eye on the real identity of the company in question and who in government, if any, may have been behind it.
When the matter first became public knowledge, it was President Magufuli who revealed that the ministry had entered an agreement with a Romanian company for the Sh1tr supply of equipment, including drones. The contract negotiations, he said, did not involve the ministry of finance despite the-would be loan to finance it. PCCB later revealed the name of the company as Rom Solutions, and said investigations would be extended to Bucharest to dig further on the company.
But simple investigations by The Citizen raises queries as to the real nature of this Rom Solutions, and if indeed it was a foreign company, and what relations it may have with local contacts. Could it be a briefcase entity fronted by tenderpreneurs to rake in billions of shillings in profits at the expense of taxpayers?
A look at the website of the company called Rom Solutions reveal the amateurish nature and suspect portrayal of the corporate status befitting the company’s ability to win a huge government contract as it did with Tanzania. Little if not nothing is known about the company in local business circles reached by The Citizen. According to the information gleaned from its website, Rom Solutions is a Zanzibar registered entity according to registration numbers on the website, but is headquartered in a room at Renaissance Plaza, in Masaki. It describes itself as having been founded by “Romanian professionals” and claims to offer “consultancy in surveillance, security, information technology, communications and other related services.” It identifies companies such as Dell, Fujitsu, Aruba, Milestone, Fortinet and AXIS Communications, all global communications and technologies companies, as among its clients.
The company’s website is very simple and it does not even show of its experience in supplying firefighting and rescue equipment to any client in the past. The website does not include the organisation structure or its leadership.
The Citizen paid a visit to floor number three, room number 306 of Renaissance Plaza where the company is headquartered to try to get the company’s side of the story in the unfolding developments related to its alleged corrupt deal with the Home Affairs ministry.
The office itself is anything but busy, with completely no movements of people. The lonely woman behind the front desk was honest enough to inform us that nobody was there at around 3pm when our team visited. Despite calling numerous times since then, there has been no response through the mobile telephone she provided us with. The receptionist does not pick up the phone most of the time and when she does, she says nobody is in.
In the company’s website, there are contact details including a Zantel mobile telephone number. When The Citizen tried to call the number, a lady who said she does not speak in Swahili picked it up. Asked about Rom Solutions Limited, she distanced herself from it. When pressed about her mobile telephone number being on a website of a company she knows nothing about, she hung up.
Checks by The Citizen show the telephone number is registered to one Milliary Wuanga.
Emails to all of the companies shown as clients to Rom Solutions had not been responded to by the time of filing this report as was an email to the Romanian Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, -- which also represents Tanzania.