Confusion grips GDC as CEO’s term ends

Menengai geothermal field in Nakuru. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Menengai geothermal field in Nakuru. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Uncertainty is hanging over the fate of Geothermal Development Company managing director Johnson ole Nchoe as his term ends Wednesday without official communication on whether it will be renewed.

Energy Secretary Charles Keter was on Monday non-committal about renewing Mr ole Nchoe’s contract, who will turn 60 in April next year. The mandatory retirement age for civil servants is 60 years.

“I am finalising the matter today (Monday), Call me later then I can update you about it,” Mr Keter said.

However, he failed to respond to our follow up texts and calls.

A source within GDC intimated that there was a growing tussle between the board, currently chaired by lawyer Gershom Otachi, which is reportedly not keen on renewing Mr ole Nchoe’s contract and the parent ministry that wants him to take a special one-year extension before recruiting a new chief executive later next year.

Mr ole Nchoe was also uncertain about his fate when the Business Daily contacted him Monday.

“I also don’t know. I can talk to you once I have information about it, but for now I have no idea,” he said.

Having missed the board’s backing, the final word will now come from Mr Keter.

Less dramatic

Mr ole Nchoe, who was picked to head GDC in April 2016 on a three-year contract, previously worked at Kenya Power as IT & Telecommunications chief manager until 2013 when he joined a group of consultants in Liberia on a donor-funded programme tasked with helping the West Africa nation rebuild its electricity network.

If he retires Wednesday, Mr ole Nchoe’s exit may be less dramatic compared that of his predecessor, Dr Silas Simiyu, who resigned in March 2015 after he was adversely mentioned in tender irregularities.

Eight months after Dr Simiyu’s exit, six GDC managers including acting CEO Godwin Mwawongo, company secretary Praxidis Saisi and tender committee members Mr Abraham Saat, Mr Peter Ayodo, Mr Caleb Mbayi and Mr Nicholas Karume were suspended by the board.

The board said its decision was based on findings by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), which recommended surcharging the six together with Dr Simiyu as well as subsequent criminal prosecution for alleged irregular procurement of rig-moving services to Bonfide Clearing and Forwarding Limited.

They were accused of inflating the movement charges of 40 lots of rigs and equipment from Sh15 million to Sh 42 million per lot, all totaling to Sh1.7 billion.

Other Energy parastatal bosses have had their terms renewed including Kenya Electricity Transmission Company’s Fernandes Barasa who got a new term earlier in the month.

Kenya Pipeline Company and Kenya Power still have acting chief executives pending corruption cases that entangled their bosses.