Editorials

Punish the Nock officials behind fuel theft racket

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A National Oil filling station. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • The circumstances in which the State-run agency lost at least 2,280,017 litres of diesel and 230,458 litres of super petrol between 2017 and 2018 point to blatant negligence by its officers who must be held to account.
  • It is unbelievable that despite Nock’s dispatch-driven business, the corporation did not schedule vehicles transporting petroleum products to its customers or undertake daily and monthly stock reconciliation.

The disclosure by the Auditor-General that the cash-strapped National Oil Corporation of Kenya (Nock) lost more than Sh2.3 billion through theft of petroleum products demands action by law enforcement agencies.

The circumstances in which the State-run agency lost at least 2,280,017 litres of diesel and 230,458 litres of super petrol between 2017 and 2018 point to blatant negligence by its officers who must be held to account.

It is unbelievable that despite Nock’s dispatch-driven business, the corporation did not schedule vehicles transporting petroleum products to its customers or undertake daily and monthly stock reconciliation.

Further, some of its officials were involved in the generation and processing of unauthorised credit notes, illegal diversion of product consignments and dispatches not supported by transporter documentation.

This is outright theft and abuse of public office. The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODDP) should conduct urgent investigations with an aim of punishing all those involved in the fuel racket.

Sh2.3 billion is not pocket change and taxpayers demand accountability of every coin that is handled by public officers.

The taxpayer is already burdened by the financial woes of the debt-ridden Nock and losing billions of shillings to crooks is tantamount to a slap in the face.

Only recently the State agency disclosed that it projects a Sh1.6 billion loss for the year ended June 30, 2020 amid piling debt. KCB has since threatened to attach Nock’s assets to recover its loan.

In the face of these debts, Nock wants the Treasury to urgently provide a Sh5.93 billion bailout to offset the Sh5.3 billion loan and pending bills of Sh628 million owed to small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Clearly this business is bleeding and it is only fair that the thieving officials are kicked out and made to refund the stolen billions of shillings to support Nock’s operations.

Nock is a strategic entity in the petroleum sector and should not be let to go down because of a few selfish individuals out to enrich themselves through blatant looting.

Law enforcers should take immediate action.