Keter picks new Kenya Power boss after Tarus is charged

Kenya Power board chairman Mahboub Maalim
Kenya Power board chairman Mahboub Maalim (left) and Energy secretary Charles Keter at Stima Plaza on July 16 where they named a three-month caretaker team after the suspension of MD Ken Tarus and 13 other top managers. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG 

Energy secretary Charles Keter on Monday picked Jared Omondi Othieno to act as Kenya Power #ticker:KPLC managing director following the arrest and arraignment of Ken Tarus over irregular supply of transformers.

Mr Keter acted after the Kenya Power board prepared a fresh list of senior managers to replace dozens of those charged with economic crimes.

The decision is meant to ensure the sole power distributor’s operations are not affected.

Mr Othieno has been working in the company as the acting general manager for Street Lighting.

Kenya Power is currently undertaking multi-billion shilling projects, including network upgrade that risk stalling in the event of a leadership vacuum.

“This interim team will serve in acting capacity for three months,” Mr Keter said at a Press briefing even as he faulted the manner in which the arrests were done. “I call upon my colleagues in the government, let’s be humane in arresting people. Arresting 19 senior managers of a single company is unfortunate,” he said.

The arrests had sparked fears of operations paralysis at the monopoly power distributor.

Earlier in the day, anxiety had gripped workers even as Kenya Power chairman Mahboub Maalim sought to assure them through an internal memo of uninterrupted services.

Mr Maalim issued yet another statement, assuring the country of stability in service provision amid the purge targeting managers. The arrested managers, including Dr Tarus and his predecessor, Ben Chumo, were on Monday arraigned in court to take a plea on charges related to the supply of transformers causing loss of millions of shillings.

In the first case, the accused denied a total of seven counts, including conspiracy to commit an economic crime, abuse of office, failure to comply with procurement laws and conspiracy to defeat justice.

The court heard that procurement of substandard transformers led to losses amounting to Sh408 million. The charges stated that Dr Chumo, Ms Beatrice Meso, Dr Tarus, Mr K.P Mungai , Mr Abubakar Swaleh and others conspired to commit an economic crime on diverse dates between August 3, 2013 and June 12, 2018 when they procured transformers worth Sh408,533,221 to Muwa Trading.

They further denied abuse of office charge and failure to comply with procurement laws.

Also in court was James Njenga, a director of the company. The prosecution further alleges that KPLC’s senior managers aided Muwa Trading company to fraudulently acquire Sh202 million from the firm after supplying substandard transformers.

The KPLC senior managers are alleged to have tried to defeat the cause of justice when they sanctioned an out- of- court settlement of a case filed by Muwa before the High Court.

It is alleged that the management team tried to settle the case out of court leading to the loss of more than Sh200 million.