At the Kenya Pipeline, elevation to the position of general manager (GM) should be included in the list of 10 ways to end up in the dock.
Today, an entire sixth floor where most of the GMs are domiciled looks like a ghost-house after a bloodletting following an anti-corruption campaign.
The seats are vacant and those who have been asked to occupy them, in acting capacity, remain reluctant to move in. They would rather act from their primary offices.
On Friday, four secretaries from the other floors chose to let off the excess energy ‘during break time’ there, some trying out the big seats but pitying their next substantive occupants. “If only they could know what awaits them,” they thought.
The superstitious ones are rooting for a cleansing ceremony so the ‘spirits are exorcised’. They believe the spirits are capable of infecting even the most innocent.
The scenes of many trips by sleuths, who were sometimes violent when ransacking the cabinets for clues and evidence, remain fresh in their minds.
There are occasions some section heads have suggested that meetings be held there only for colleagues to resist. There is an informal suggestion to move the offices to other floors.
The current situation where immediate former Chief Executive officer Joe Sang and at least four other GMs are in court battling all manner of cases has made the positions unattractive to insiders.
It is whispered in the corridors of Kenpipe Plaza, the headquarters of the agency, located on Sekondi Road, Industrial Area, that the spirit of death resides in the sixth floor.
And so when Ms Anne Njuguna, a former GM audit, died recently, many said it had everything to do with the office and attendant chores.
A concerned insider explained that while there may be genuine cases of embezzlement that deserve the attention of the justice system, the organisational structure at Pipeline is largely to blame for the many board room wars.
“You have a chairman who is enjoying almost executive powers and a managing director/management that is also supposed to be hands-on in a lucrative company, with a turnover as high as Sh22 billion. Friction is bound to occur all the time, creating a very toxic environment,” the source said.
Mr John Ngumi is the chairman of the Board of Directors and Hudson Andambi is the acting Managing Director.
Mr Andambi had his contract extended by six months about three weeks ago.
Mr Vincent Cheruiyot (GM supply chain), Ms Gloria Khafafa (Corporation Secretary), Mr Billy Aseka (GM projects) and Mr Samuel Odoyo (GM Finance) are all fighting to clear their names in the Kisumu Oil jetty scandal where some Sh2 billion is thought to have been lost.
Mr Martin Kimani (GM strategy) rejoined Kenol while the contract of Ms Sharon Kisire (GM HR) has not been renewed.
Mr Derrick Okova (Ag, GM operations and maintenance) was recently demoted and the position given to a non-engineer (a chemist).
A few months ago, they all shared a floor and, most of them, same job groups. This was before Mr Audi Okullo resigned after six months as GM infrastructure.
Mr Peter Mbugua had to leave over a controversy concerning his academic papers.
Mr Andambi admits that it has not been easy, having all key positions held by officers in acting capacity.
“All the GMs are acting, something that of course has a negative effect on confidence levels. But we have also made it clear to them that the targets of the company must be met, whether we are acting or not,” he said.
He expressed hope that sooner than later, there would be substantive holders of those officers.
The board recently advertised for the position of chief executive after a long standing moratorium on such recruitments was lifted.
Without delving into the merits of the court cases, it would appear a job in the procurement department is fraught with many risks, if the sheer number of officers (from other State corporations, as well) facing charges in court, is anything to go by.
They form the bulk of government officials in court following a crackdown on graft ordered by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Last week, the board and management circulated adverts claiming that KPC was only a victim of bad press.
“For too long, KPC has been the subject of a barrage of negative reporting, much of it inaccurate and or misleading, and much of it focused on historical issues which the company is tackling with vigour.”