Are energy agencies ducking probe into wind power contract?
For three consecutive days last week, the Public Investments Committee (PIC) of the National Assembly was unable to obtain any information from senior officials of three government entities on the state’s relationship with the Lake Turkana Wind Power Company ( LTWP).
Coincidentally or by design, officials from the National Treasury, Kenya Power and the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (Ketraco) were at a loss when they appeared before the committee and ultimately did not provide the information of background that Members were looking for.
They all requested more time to gather all the required documents as well as to prepare coherent statements for the presentation.
This was not welcomed by MPs, who now feel that state agencies are not taking the committee and the investigation seriously. The chairman noted, separately, that each of the companies had months to prepare for the committee session, having been notified last year.
While it may be coincidental that Treasury officials and energy industry players were unable to offer what the committee was looking for, it could also have to do with the topic.
The parliamentary committee has investigated the Lake Turkana wind power project after the auditor general submitted a special audit report to the House that points to serious mistakes made by government officials that have proven costly for the country. .
The report goes on to recommend that senior officials heading the Ministry of Energy and Kenya Power at the time be held accountable.
If implemented, the audit could require a number of managers involved in the development of the plant.
Last week, state officials performed a sort of dance with the committee, answering its questions superficially and without providing requested details, while failing to attach key documents to reports they presented to the Parliament.
“Let me review the documentation and come back to the committee with the exact reason why this was the case,” Kenya Power Acting Chief Executive Officer Rosemary Oduor said in response to a number of questions that the committee asked him on Thursday. .
On Wednesday, the Principal Secretary of the National Treasury, Julius Muia, also failed to provide the required information, including attachments to the statement he presented.
He said if given more time, the Treasury would provide a “detailed account of events” leading to the selection of LTWP to set up the plant in Marsabit County.
The day before, Ketraco acting boss Anthony Wamukota appeared before PIC but also asked for more time. In his case, he wanted to get acquainted with the answers which, according to him, had been prepared by his predecessor, Fernandes Barasa.
Mr Barasa had resigned a day earlier (Monday) to enter politics, but MPs read mischief in his sudden exit, noting he was supposed to appear before the committee.
The deputies also argued that Eng Wamukota had been the managing director of Ketraco and should be aware of what Barasa wrote and be able to own it.
Wamukota responded that while he was CEO under Baraza, he had only contributed part of the report the CEO had written to the committee and was unaware of what other directors had given.
“I think the biggest challenge is that you were completely unprepared for today,” PIC Chairman Abdullswamad Nassir has repeatedly told government agencies.
At one point during his meeting with Kenya Power, he noted how detached ministries and agencies are that even when dealing with the same thing, they have taken different positions in relation to the LTWP project.
Seeming frustrated with the little progress his team had made during the week, Mr Nassir wondered whether parliament should approve the funds allocated to Kenya Power from the treasury in the supplementary budget.
Kenya Power is among the public entities receiving about 38 billion shillings this financial year to help them in their recovery.
“As it stands, in the supplementary budget, a substantial amount is earmarked to go to Kenya Power… I am convinced Parliament should not please you and give you more funding,” said the President.
“All the accounting officers at these institutions…we have met with the Treasury and the Department of Energy and everyone is saying the same thing. One arm doesn’t seem to know what the other is doing.”
The Auditor General’s special audit of the LTWP identified major anomalies in the company’s procurement to develop the power station, saying the government should have stuck to the public procurement law and selected a producer electricity through a competitive process.
He also notes how costly the delays in the construction of the power line have been for the country, largely due to the hiring of a broke contractor – Isolux Ingenieria SA of Spain.
The company failed to deliver the project on time due to financial difficulties, and the audit report asked if the government had performed due diligence on the company before it was contracted to build the one of the largest power transmission lines in the country.