Foul Play Alleged in Census 2021 Contract Award

Shortly before Christmas in 2020, as the world contended with COVID-19, the National Procurement Commission considered bids to supply materials for the 2021 Census effort.

Wakale Stationery & Logistics was awarded a K4.1 million contract to supply stationary for the 2021 Census, a K3.5 million contract was awarded to Printsol Limited for the provision of field gear, while MH Supplies won a K4.9 award for the printing of manuals, booklets and forms.

Last year information was submitted to PNGi alleging that the award to Wakale Stationary was tainted by serious conflicts of interest involving the head of the National Statistics Office, John Igitoi. Specifically, it was alleged that Wakale Stationary was set up by a close relative of Igitoi for the purposes of obtaining this award, and that Wakale Stationary had no prior experience in the area or machinery.

In order to independently verify this allegation, the National Procurement Commission was approached for copies of documents relating to the census tenders. Repeated requests were made for these documents, however, the National Procurement Commission failed to provide them. This is despite the fact that under s42(1) of the National Procurement Act the Commission is required, upon written request by any person, to disclose all available information regarding a procurement or intended procurement.

Questions were also submitted to the National Statistics Office for response from its head, John Igitoi. PNGi received no response.

Further investigations were conducted using open source material.

According to IPA registry data, Wakale Stationery & Logistics is a business name that was registered on 23 September 2019. Its owner is Waeks Aleu. There is no online business records for Wakale Stationery or business contact details. In contrast both Printsol Limited and MH Supplies have online, business listings, details on their shopfront and contact details.

An individual with the name Waeks Aleu has a Facebook page, his friends includes John Igitoi and several other individuals with the family name Igitoi.

At the moment, there is not enough evidence available on the public record to substantiate the allegations against John Igitoi. There are some red flags surrounding this tender award to Wakale Stationary, but not enough evidence yet to infer impropriety.

If members of the public have any further information regarding this case, or if Waeks Aleu or John Igitoi would like to share their views, emails can be sent to PNGi: [email protected]