Six GDC managers sent on compulsory leave pending graft probe

Wednesday November 4 2015

One of the rigs acquired by Geothermal

One of the rigs acquired by Geothermal Development Corporation on site at the Menengai, in Nakuru. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

JAMES KARIUKI
By JAMES KARIUKI
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The Geothermal Development Company (GDC) has sent home its six senior managers blamed for inflating rig moving charges.

GDC board chairman Otachi Bw’Omanwa said the six had been sent on compulsory leave to pave the way for investigations.

“The board has not attributed culpability to the aforementioned staff but sent them home to facilitate conclusive investigations," he said in the statement.

"The board is committed to offering leadership and guidance to the management and staff to ensure GDC achieves its mission of delivering reliable and affordable power to Kenyans,” he stated.

The six are acting Chief Executive Officer Godwin Mwawongo, company Secretary Praxidis Saisi and tender committee members, including Mr Abraham Saat, Mr Peter Ayodo, Mr Caleb Mbayi and Mr Nicholas Karume.

The board said its decision was based on a recent finding by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), which recommended surcharging the six as well as subsequent criminal prosecution together with suspended GDC Managing Director Silas Simiyu for alleged irregular procurement of rig-moving services.

At the same time, the board appointed Mr Paul Ngugi as acting managing director until the matter is exhaustively resolved.

The EACC found the entire tender committee culpable due to glaring irregularities that exposed taxpayers’ funds to wanton embezzlement.

The report said the rigs meant for drilling and harvesting of steam were acquired by the government to ease the cost of geothermal development but were yet to harness adequate steam wells as earlier planned.

SCANDAL

The report said the entire tender board should be jointly charged with abuse of office and must be surcharged to refund all money lost during the tender award.

The EACC said the tender committee should be probed for awarding Bonfide Clearing and Forwarding Ltd a contract to move geothermal rigs and other equipment in 40 lots, with each costing Sh42 million, in the Menengai drilling area within a radius of about 500 metres, bringing the total cost to Sh1.7 billion.

The six are accused of inflating the rig movement charges from Sh15 million to S 42million per rig, totalling Sh1.7 billion.

Former EACC chairman Mumo Matemu had, in a letter dated March 26, cleared Dr Simiyu of any blame over the tender, saying he was clean.

But later, Mr Matemu disowned the letter, saying he was not aware of it and therefore never authored it.

The goings-on at the GDC prompted President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene, appointing Mr Bw’Omanwa to chair the new board, whose members are Mr Salaton Letaipan, Mr Michael Ogwapit, Dr Stephen Njiru and Ms Florence Chepng’etich.

Mr Bw’Omanwa, who replaced Mr Faisal Abass, described the EACC report as grave, saying the board took the issue seriously as it had impacted the operations of GDC.

Dr Simiyu, who founded the GDC, resigned in March this year after the EACC dossier was published naming him as a star player in the tender award scandal.

Mr Mwawongo, a reservoir/mechanical engineer with a postgraduate qualification in geothermal energy technology from the Geothermal Institute in New Zealand, was the acting MD, having replaced Dr Simiyu.