Agency wants officials charged over geothermal tender award

By: Samwel Born Maina

The anti-graft agency has finally concluded investigations into the irregular procurement of rig moving services at the Geothermal Development Company (GDC) in a deal that cost Sh1.7 billion of taxpayers money.

Investigators found the whole tender committee guilty of inflating the rig move prices from Sh15 million to Sh42 million per rig move within a period of one year without following tender regulations.

It is alleged that the rigs, meant for drilling and harvesting of steam meant to lower the cost of power in the country, have not harvested the desired amount of steam.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission recommended that suspended GDC managing director Silas Simiyu be charged together with those who sat in the tender committee with inflating prices during the tendering award.

These are acting CEO Godwin Mwawongo, company secretary Praxidis Saisi, Mr Abraham Sat, Mr Peter Ayodo, Mr Caleb Mbayi, Mr Bruno Mugambi and Mr Nicholas Karume.

Dr Simiyu and the members of the tender committee were being investigated for awarding Bonfide Clearing and Forwarding a contract in 2012 to move geothermal rigs and other equipment in 40 lots with each costing Sh42 million within Menengai drilling area, which has a radius of about 500 metres, bringing the worth of the entire deal to Sh1.7 billion.

The magnitude of the investigations attracted the attention of the National Assembly who called for speedy investigations into the matter.

On Friday, the Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko said he would independently review the file and a decision would be made thereafter.

DRAMA

Investigations into the GDC scandal have not been without drama.

Early this year, EACC vice-chairperson Irene Keino (she has since resigned) said powerful forces were forcing the commissioners to resign for investigating mega scandals, GDC being one of them.

In a letter dated March 26, purportedly signed by EACC chairman Mumo Matemu (also resigned), Dr Simiyu had been absolved of any corruption claims against him.

But Mr Matemu would distance himself from the contents of the said letter, saying he never authored it.

He invited the criminal investigations department to investigate the matter.

The events at GDC prompted President Uhuru Kenyatta to appoint a new board, bringing in lawyer Gershom Otachi as chairman to replace Mr Faisal Abass.

Other board members are Mr Salaton Letaipan, Mr Michael Ogwapit, Dr Stephen Njiru and Ms Florence Chepngetich.

On Friday, Mr Otachi told Sunday Nation that the findings by EACC were serious and the board would deliberate on the matter.

“We have not discussed it as a board. We will sit in the coming week to see how the decision impacts on our operations. I cannot comment on the matter because we have not sat as a board,” Mr Otachi said.

In March, Dr Simiyu was shown the door after his name appeared in a dossier compiled by the EACC and handed over to the President.

He was replaced in an acting capacity by Mr Mwawongo, a reservoir/mechanical engineer with a postgraduate qualification in geothermal energy technology from the Geothermal Institute in New Zealand.

The board will now sit and appoint a new acting CEO and advertise for the position as the tenure of the suspended CEO is coming to an end.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION