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Prisoners face starvation as payment dispute halts supplies

A major crisis is looming in prison facilities over a row between the department of prisons and suppliers of goods. Businesspeople who have been supplying essential commodities such as food, medicines, uniforms and fuel have stopped due to non-payment.

Major facilities have reported a shortage of the goods, which has grounded operations including feeding prisoners and transport.

This was after State Department Principal Secretary Zainab Hussein suspended payment of multi-million-shilling pending bills.

Senior prisons officials accuse the PS of stalling operations in the department while her office says the pending bills, amounting to Sh6.2 billion, have to be verified before being paid.

The PS has also stopped award of new tenders. The department has now readvertised the tender, which effectively cancels the initial awards. This means money that had been allocated for the tenders may be recalled to the Treasury, further affecting services.

The department has in the meantime written to various government agencies asking for scrutiny of the tenders already won. They include the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) and the Attorney General, auditors, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).

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