CORRESPONDENT | NATION Warship KNS Jasiri left Ribadeo port in Spain a few days ago and is expected to dock in Mombasa on August 27, 2012. Nation Media Group
Monday, August 27, 2012
The Kenya Navy’s newest warship is expected to sails into Mombasa today bristling with weapons but almost a decade after it was ordered.
One of the controversial projects of the Anglo Leasing season, the Sh4.6 billion ship is expected to play a big role in the fight against piracy and terrorism.
The ship left Ribadeo port in Spain a few days ago and is expected to dock in Mombasa on Monday and is to be commissioned by President Kibaki.
It has been christened KSN (Kenya Navy Ship) Jasiri and is fitted with long range cannons, missile launchers, machine guns and sophisticated radar and communications systems, according to a Department of Defence official. It is, the official added, one of the best naval assets in the region.
Kenya Defence Forces and others troops under the African Union Mission in Somalia are planning an assault on Somali terror group Al-Shabaab’s stronghold of Kismayu.
It is not clear if KNS Jasiri will play a role in operations to remove Al-Shabaab from the port city. Kenya has re-tooled its military over the past 10 years and is fighting its first ever war.
Defence expenditure has been on the rise, with the Ministry of State for Defence getting Sh70 billion in this year’s budget.
In April, in supplementary estimates submitted to Parliament, the Treasury had asked for an additional Sh12.5 billion “to meet increasing administration and planning expenses of the Kenya Defence Forces.”
Kenya has been on a state of high alert since the army crossed into Somalia on October 16, last year to fight Al-Shabaab.
Research by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said Kenya increased military spending last year with the importation of eight war ships and six armoured vehicles.
Kenya’s overall military spending rose to Sh52.2 billion ($594 million) in 2010 from Sh47.5 billion ($580 million) in 2009.
The navy ship project was among those exposed by former Governance and Ethics permanent secretary John Githongo.
The Department of Defence signed a deal with Euromarine on July 15, 2003 to build the ship at the Spanish shipyard, Astilleros Gondan.
Payments for the contract were stopped in June 2005 after Mr Githongo blew the whistle on the suspicious financing deals.
The supplier then sued the government for withholding payments for the vessel which was dubbed “Kenya’s Spanish Armada” by former British High Commissioner Edward Clay.
But the government resumed negotiations in September 2006 after the parliamentary Committee on Defence and Foreign Relations gave the contract a clean bill of health.
The committee, then chaired by Mr GG Kariuki, had gone on a fact-finding mission in Spain and held meetings with the suppliers before preparing its report.
Its findings, however, drew criticism from civil society groups, particularly anti-corruption watchdog Mars Group led by Mr Mwalimu Mati.
Previous damning reports on the deal included those prepared by the Controller and Auditor General (April 2006), the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (March 2006) and the Ministry of Justice (September 2006).