Kenya Pipeline Company is yet to quantify the fuel stolen after crooks linked a pipe to the 20-inch Mombasa-Nairobi Pipeline and siphoned the product at Mlolongo in Machakos County.
The company said two suspects were arrested yesterday following a tip-off that water trucks were being used to ferry fuel from a plot disguised as a construction site about four kilometres off Mombasa Road.
KPC acting managing director Hudson Andambi termed the incident “shocking and disturbing” and asked for a speedy investigation.
“With the two suspects in custody, we hope to unravel the people behind this unfortunate scheme. From what we have seen, these are people had substantial technical understanding going by the sophistication with which they taped the line,” Mr Andambi said, adding KPC had enhanced its pipeline surveillance and intelligence gathering to deal with any such schemes.
When the Business Daily visited the site, an excavator was being used to open the new pipeline barely a year in operation as petrol oozed from the spot.
Inside a plot fenced using yellow iron sheet, a lorry with a blue water bowser labelled ‘Clean water’ parked in a loading position just next to the pumping point. A tin-walled house with a small window and a plates rack were the only other structures on the place locals have always believed to be a construction site.
The site was set up in January 2019, according to the locals who spoke to the Business Daily, just six months after the new pipe flowing one million litres of petrol, diesel and Kerosene every hour.
A 10-metre underground tunnel linking the compound and the pipeline makes the access for the thieves who are also said to have used high standard pipes that are used in the oil and gas industry worldwide.
The plot even has an unmetered electricity connection from a nearby distribution line.
Investigators also fund a valve which the crooks were using in what signals a well-planned inside job by people who would know which product to tap at what time since the same pipe carries all the three fuel products at different times.
The use of water trucks also provided a perfect cover with some locals saying some trucks also went into the site with other building materials to dramatise an ongoing construction.
“We could not tell whether it was just construction going on or some water being sold but there were several water trucks going in and out of that plot especially during the early hours and late in the evening,” said Mr Maurice, a residence who chose not to disclose his surname for fear of victimization by the fuel cartel.
The latest pilferage on the fuel pipelines presents a fresh headache for KPC which is yet to unravel a massive oil leak in Kiboko area, Makueni County.
It also put the state agency on the spot for investing Sh48 billion to build the pipeline without a leak detection which could have saved the fuel loss which in many cases gets passed down to consumers in the monthly pump prices announced by the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority.
Last year, KPC discovered a similar diversion of its Sinendet –Kisumu line at Kibos in what the then chief f executive Joe Sang linked to theft by engineers with knowledge of petroleum piping.
Another pilferage was discovered in Koru area in Kusumu County where the suspect built a petrol station near the line and build a T-junction on the KPC line were an unknown volume of product was stolen.