Uhuru trains guns on energy agencies amid rampant graft
KPC, Kenya Pipeline, National Oil, Geothermal Development Company among those hit
Recently, corruption and the name of an energy agency have been appearing frequently on the same sentence. So, when President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday said some rogue officials had turned energy parastatals into dens of corruption, he was underscoring what has been in the public domain and grabbing headlines for a while now.
“We want help in arresting all the rogue heads (of the agencies),” said President Kenyatta on Thursday when he presided over the ground-breaking ceremony for the 83.3MW unit 6 of Olkaria 1 Geothermal power plant in Naivasha, Nakuru County.
Several cash-rich State agencies under the Energy and Petroleum dockets are reeling from a series of corruption allegations. They include Kenya Pipeline, National Oil Corporation of Kenya, Kenya Power, Geothermal Development Company, and Rural Electrification Authority (Rea).
Former and current officials at the agencies are under investigation for various corruption related incidents.
On Friday, Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter reiterated the President's message, saying anyone caught engaging in corruption would carry their own cross. “All of them are aware of the law hence I expect them to operate above board,” Mr Keter warned.
Earlier on Thursday, Petroleum CS John Munyes admitted that there is systemic corruption at Kenya Pipeline, adding that it should be dealt with immediately.
Mr Munyes said results of a forensic audit and investigations being carried out by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) hold the key to the truth and action would be taken against those found culpable.
EACC in August summoned Rea board to shed light on a report they submitted to Mr Keter implicating some senior managers in corruption. The board had written to EACC on August 10 concerning the performance of the management in delivering key government flagship projects costing billions of shillings, after the conclusion of an audit that Mr Keter had commissioned.
The CS wanted a scrutiny of the electrification of public primary schools and human resource capacity at the authority.
The audit sought to find out the status of the programme and why the management had been issuing inconsistent reports on it; why Rea-installed transformers have been failing; and the quality management standards of Rea relating to procurement of materials.
Another agency that has been marred by allegations of fraud is National Oil. It recently emerged that fraudulent contractors supplied 67,251 faulty gas cylinders, scuttling a government plan to provide poor homes with cheaper cooking fuel. More than a third of the liquefied petroleum gas cylinders supplied to National Oil were sub-standard, including having faulty valves that posed the danger of fire eruptions.
Under the Sh3 billion plan, dubbed the Mwananchi Gas Project, the households were to receive 6kg cooking gas cylinders and burners at a discounted price of Sh2,000.
The market price for the 6kg gas cylinder with cooking accessories is about Sh5,000.
An internal report prepared by National Oil, the State oil marketer, showed it rejected 67,251 cylinders supplied by four local firms out of a total of 353,000 supplied, citing poor quality.
The tender in the first phase of the gas plan was valued at over Sh700 million. The cheaper cooking gas plan is aimed at entrenching the use of the commodity among low-income households in order to cut reliance on kerosene and charcoal, which are not environment-friendly.
Under the plan, which has already been piloted in Machakos and Kajiado counties, the Energy ministry is expected to buy about one million new cylinders for distribution.
The DCI announced in October the launch of investigations into how the fraudulent contractors supplied 67,251 faulty gas.
Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti said then he will lead a team of detectives to establish how the Petroleum ministry and the National Oil allowed the supply of the sub-standard cooking gas cylinders.
“We will initiate a probe. We cannot allow a programme funded by taxpayers to put Kenyan citizens at risk,” said Mr Kinoti.
In July, the rot at Kenya Power finally caught up with the management after Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji ordered for the arrest of officials of the firm over corruption allegations.
In one swoop, the DPP ordered for the arrest of senior managers including former managing director Ben Chumo and his successor Ken Tarus over procurement of defective transformers and the irregularities in pre-qualifying 525 companies for labour and transport contracts.
Besides Dr Chumo and Dr Tarus, other suspects are company secretary Beatrice Meso, general manager business strategy Peter Mungai, general manager commercial services Joshua Mutua, general manager resource and administration Abubakar Swaleh, general manager ICT Samuel Ndirangu, general manager infrastructure development Stanley Mutwiri, general manager network management Benson Muriithi, general manager regional co-ordination, Peter Mwicigi and head of supply chain John Ombui.
The court heard that they led to losses amounting to Sh408 million at the power supplier by procuring substandard transformers. The charges stated that they conspired to commit an economic crime between August 3, 2013, and June 12, 2018, when they procured the transformers from a company known as M/s Muwa Trading. They denied the charges.
Kenya Pipeline is another agency that has been hit by corruption claims running into billions of shillings. On Friday, the Petroleum ministry appointed an interim managing director to run the scandal-dogged Kenya Pipeline on the day Mr Sang was arrested.
Mr Hudson Andambi, who has been an alternate director representing the ministry at the Kenya Power board, will take the corner office as the board sits next week to pick a replacement from the management.
Petroleum Principal Secretary Andrew Kamau said in a statement on Friday that Mr Andambi would only stay for “a couple of days” to fill the void.
“He is only there to hold until the board meets next week to deliberate on the way forward, may be up to Tuesday or Wednesday and then he will be back to the ministry. He is someone with a grasp of the place having been an alternate director for the board," Mr Kamau said.
In June, it emerged that faulty transformers at the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company's sub-stations have been the cause of frequent power outages around the country, an internal audit report on the parastatal says. This put into question the criteria used to procure such faulty equipment.
The power failures' real impact is dilution of quality of supply that ultimately drives businesses into extra costs that are passed on to taxpayers in form of expensive goods from the manufacturers.
The newly constructed Sh1.7 billion Kisumu oil jetty at the Kenya Pipeline Company depot. The DPP has approved three charges against outgoing Kenya Pipeline boss Joe Sang and five other people in the case concerning the Kisumu oil jetty.