Judging by recent happenings in the top office, Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) has once again produced an all too familiar story of exiting its chief executive under a storm of controversy rooted in corporate governance.
KPC, which is one of the cash-richest state-owned firms that handles nearly all of Kenya’s and the region’s oil supplies, has had one of the highest CEO and management turnovers in the country’s history.
Its pipeline of scandals are so evergreen that hardly a year passes without the Auditor-General seeing mischief in its operations and books.
Yet besides what the Kenya National Audit Office says, KPC is hardly ever off the news – mostly for the wrong reasons. Only recently, the company was in the limelight for pumping water into oil tankers in Western Kenya.
Hardly had the dust settled on that matter than news broke of disappearance of millions of litres of fuel from the pipelines without a trace.
The funny side ended just there because it soon emerged that the fuel may have spilled into private tanks putting the taxpayer at the risk of picking the tab to pay the oil marketers.
This monthly scandal just followed the string of controversy surrounding the building of the new Mombasa-Nairobi pipeline that gobbled billions more every time the public thought its cost had been fully paid.
It appears that crime is part of the system and obviously goes on unchecked for the obvious reason that the firm’s leadership always have political connections and therefore rely on the godfathers and industry cartels to remain in office.
To be sure, several of the former top dogs have been charged in court but that was before the current system of freezing assets came to force – meaning the suspects are still out there enjoying the ill-gotten wealth.
Given the critical importance of KPC—and other Energy parastatals like Kenya Power that appear to chronically court economic crimes—it is time that a serious overhaul takes place.
Joe Sang’s departure from KPC should be followed by serious shake-up of the company’s structures and senior management to break away from the ugly past.
While there is so far no evidence of any wrong doing by specific people, the oil marketers have made it clear that something is wrong at KPC.
This will not be fixed by a mere DCI investigation. It will take an overhaul of the entire system that allows the leakages to happen. For it is only when state corporations like KPC cease acting like cash cows for power wielders that we will get off this swamp.