Top Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) officials have not had an easy weekend. The managers and board members were guests of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations over alleged embezzlement of funds for the construction of an oil jetty in Kisumu.
On Monday, it will be KPC board chairman John Ngumi’s turn to shed light on questions surrounding the idle facility that cost tax payers Sh1.9 billion.
A DCI letter to KPC which Nation has since obtained lists 21 documents for scrutiny, many of which Managing Director Joe Sang was expected to deliver during his Friday appearance before the detectives looking into possible squandering of public funds.
Top on the list of documents being scrutinised is the feasibility study that informed the need for the jetty, whose construction was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta in July last year, two months after the contract was awarded to Southern Engineering Company.
The investigators will also be pilfering through the engineer’s project cost estimation report, budget approvals for 2016/2017 as well as 2017/2018, a list of tendering documents including names of those involved as well as payment details to the contractor including the bank accounts.
Last Thursday, KPC manager in the Department of Infrastructure and his colleague in Finance spent hours at the DCI headquarters along Kiambu Road while Mr Sang was grilled on Friday morning.
The jetty, whose speedy completion was premised on the pretext that Kenya would use it to boost oil supply to the neighbouring Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi through Lake Victoria, has been lying idle since February when it was handed over to KPC; as it emerged that Uganda was yet to start building its receiving jetty on the other side of the lake.
Confidential board papers seen by Nation paint a grim picture of the project. Various challenges, including lack of vessels ready to pick fuel from the jetty, which raise concerns that oil marketers may find the facility more expensive compared to road transport, dims hopes of operating any time soon.
Uganda’s reluctance to construct a jetty on the other side threatens to render the facility a white elephant, raising the question of why Kenya rushed to sink the heavy investment into the project.
But KPC Managing Director Joe Sang had earlier dismissed the ‘white elephant’ label on the jetty, insisting that the Ugandan jetty was in progress.
“The Ugandan jetty is under construction, and the investor has been impressed upon to fast-track the project,” Mr Sang said.
The DCI detectives will also be pressing hard to find out why the jetty had its cost more than doubled from Sh900 million.
A summarised bill of quantities for the project has items in the civil works that raise eyebrows, with Sh381 million simply marked as ‘general works.’
The access road and the approach bridge into the facility alone gobbled up Sh342 million, according to the bills prepared by the contractor.
The project is also said to have incurred heavy expenses due to frequent visits by top bosses, prompting the DCI to ask for records of per diem paid to KPC staff during the project.