- EACC says agency boss continued stay in office would frustrate investigations into procurement irregularities in the agency.
- The agency is one of the nine Water Works Development Agencies established under the Ministry of Water, Sanitation & Irrigation.
Water Cabinet Secretary Alice Wahome is locked in an argument with EACC over the anti-graft watchdog's call for the suspension of Athi Water Works CEO Michael Thuita over an ongoing investigation.
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission wants the Cabinet secretary to suspend Thuita saying his continued stay in office would frustrate investigations into procurement irregularities in the agency.
The investigations concern the award of tender for the construction of Ruiru Two, Karimenu and Kitui Matuu dams that were undertaken by the agency.
“The CEO, being the accounting officer of the agency, was involved in the implementation of these three projects. Therefore, there is a likelihood that his being in office will interfere with the smooth provision of documents and persons who may be called upon as witnesses,” EACC chief executive Twalib Mbarak told the CS in a letter dated May 24.
The water projects were initiated in 2013 while Thuita was appointed in 2017, four years later.
The CS however declined to effect the request maintaining that there was inadequate basis to call for the suspension of the CEO against the claims.
In a correspondence, Wahome told the CEO that the subject matter should be investigations into procurement irregularities and not suspension as referenced in his letter.
“To enable me to consider the recommended action of suspension, kindly let me have the letter of complaint or the complaint file,” she said.
Wahome argued that suspending an officer is not within the purview of her office.
At the same time, a petitioner has moved to court seeking orders compelling Thuita to vacate office over claims that his three-year tenure has lapsed.
In her affidavit, Caroline Wambui Mwangi, the petitioner, accused the CS of obstructing an ongoing corruption investigation by allowing Thuita to continue serving in his position.
She said his continued stay at the office hinders the ongoing probe and could lead to manipulation of evidence.
“It is unlawful for Thuita to illegitimately and mischievously continue exercising the mandate vested in the office of the CEO of the agency in a manner that terribly exposes the public to grave legal liabilities,” She said in her affidavit.
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Act 2015 stipulates the functions of the commission as investigating and recommending to the Director of Public Prosecutions the prosecution of any acts of corruption, bribery, economic crimes or other matters prescribed under any law enacted pursuant to Chapter Six of the Constitution.
Thuita on the other hand aid said he was appointed in August 2017 and gazetted to head the agency in an acting capacity and that his current term is expected to expire in May next year.
Documents in our possession from the agency indicate that the Karimenu II Dam was first advertised on February 7, 2013, and the contract agreement was signed on May 9, 2014.
On May 26, 2017, AVIC INTL Project Engineering Company received 15 percent of the contract amounting to US dollars 35.4 million (Sh4.9 billion).
In the case of the Ruiru II Dam, the project summary document indicates that an advertisement for an expression of interest for funding design and building was submitted on March 16, 2013.
After evaluation of the tender documents, it was awarded to Vinci Construction Grand Projects on May 25, 2017, and the contract was signed five days later.
The agency is one of the nine Water Works Development Agencies established under the Ministry of Water, Sanitation & Irrigation.
The Agency is responsible for the development, maintenance and management of water and sewerage infrastructure in Nairobi, Kiambu and Muranga Counties, covering 5,800.4 square kilometres and a population of 9,320,287 people.
Currently, the Agency has a bulk water production capacity of 664,337 cubic metres per day and a wastewater treatment capacity of 210,500 cubic metres per day.