CORPORATE SUITE

Search of new Kenya Pipeline boss intensifies

The cash-rich parastatal has had nine managing directors in the last 14 years.

In Summary

•The Kenya Pipeline board re-advertised the position last month after failing to secure an adequate number of applicants in an earlier July call.

•The position fell vacant after embattled former MD Joe Sang's premature exit in December last year.

Kenya pipeline KPC headquarters in industrial area,Nairobi/FILE
Kenya pipeline KPC headquarters in industrial area,Nairobi/FILE

The corner office at Kenya Pipeline is proving to be too hot after all, as the application deadline for the position closes today.

Kenya Pipeline Company(KPC) chairman John Ngumi yesterday told the Star: “I have no idea how many have applied . Will know when we open the tender box,access email after the applications close.”

This is the second time this year the board is receiving applications after a call in July failed to attract a “sizable” number of applicants.

The position which fell vacant in December after the exit of former MD Joe Sang was re-advertised last month , raising questions on why top executives in the country are shunning the cash-rich parastatal which has had nine managing directors in the last 14 years, despite the position offering a three-year renewable contract.

KPC board had first advertised the position on July 19, this year with August 2, as the closing date for applications.

Sources familiar with the process yesterday told the Star less than 100 persons had applied for the job, in the July call, despite KPC remaining a leading 'self-sufficient' state corporations.

In a public announcement last month, the board said it did not find an adequate number of qualified applicants to proceed to the next stage of interviews.

“This is therefore to notify all qualified candidates that the board wishes to re-advertise

the position. All those who had applied earlier need to re-apply,” the board said last month.

“We need to have a reasonable number of people to go ahead with the interviews. If you have one or two qualified person you cant proceed. ” Ngumi told the Star.

Former MD Joe Sang's premature exit in December last year ended up with an arrest alongside company secretary Gloria Khafafa, head of procurement Vincent Cheruiyot, procurement manager Nicholas Gitobu and general manager in charge of infrastructure Billy Aseka.

Sang and his team were accused of malpractice and theft of Sh528.5 million during the construction of the Sh1.7 billion Kisumu Oil Jetty.

During the time, the board had invited the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to probe the disappearance of more than 21 million litres of fuel worth over Sh2 billion, which the company claims it either spilt or had been stolen in the last two years.

Sang was appointed on April 13, 2016, by Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter from a pool of 64 applicants. His first term was to end in April this year. Hudson Andambi was appointed acting MD hours after Sang's arrest, a position he holds to date.

Historical and current developments at the company, which transports over 80 per cent of the country's petroleum products, leaves many wondering if the MD's office position is cursed.

For decades, KPC has attracted political and commercial interests leading to strategic appointments into key positions including the CEO.

“We are all wondering why no one is completing two terms at the helm of KPC. Its like the office is cursed, but one thing I can tell you is there is a lot of political interests and interference,” a senior manager at the company , who sought anonymity, told the Star.

Sang had taken over from Flora Akoth who led the organization in a one-year short stint before she was sent on compulsory leave. She had taken over from Charles Tanui in 2015 who was sacked over irregular awarding of a Sh29 million tender for the installation of auto-transformers.

Tanui had taken over from Selest Kilinda in May 2013. He ended up being charged with abuse of office, including the irregular award of Sh647 million for the supply of Hydrant pit valves used in aircraft fueling at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

His predecessor(Kilinda) had been fired after an internal audit revealed he had employed family members.

Other former KPC managind directors include George Okungu(2009), Shem Ochuodho (2005), Linus Cheruiyot(2004) and Ezekiel Komen whom Cheruiyot took over from.

Okungu was sacked in June 2009 over alleged inflation of a contract to upgrade the Mombasa-Nairobi pipeline.

Ochuodho left in December 2005 after a Sh827 million fraud allegation, where him and two other managers were accused of conspiracy to defraud KPC.

Linus Cheruiyot served between 2001 and 2004 before exiting, on accusation of conspiracy to defraud KPC of Sh339 million through a computerization tender.

Komen on the other hand had been dismissed on allegations of abuse of office after allegedly authorizing payment of Sh65.2 million from the bank account of East African Gas where he was a signatory.

KPC has invested heavily in six major pipelines which handle 80 per cent of super petrol, diesel, aviation fuel (Jet A-1) and domestic kerosene used in Kenya, and supplies oil marketing companies operating in neighbouring countries.

It has major installations in Mombasa(where imports come through), Nairobi,Nakuru, Eldoret and Kisumu.