Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa has had a two-day marathon grilling at the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) headquarters in Nairobi.
The sessions that started Monday spilled over to Tuesday; where investigators interrogated the governor over Sh18 billion alleged loss at Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (Ketraco). Where he served as CEO.
Mr Barasa flanked by county aides arrived at Integrity Centre at around 8.30 am on Monday; and left at 9.30 pm after a marathon session. Only interrupted by lunch and health breaks.
No breathing space
The governor’s aides ordered for packed lunch; which he took at EACC offices and he didn’t venture out until the session ended at 9.30 pm.
He briefly addressed the media and left but EACC officials declined to comment about the grilling.
On Tuesday, November 8, the governor arrived at EACC headquarters at 7.30 am; and by 4.30 pm he was still being interrogated.
EACC spokesman Yassin Amaro said officers were still taking Barasa’s statement.
“We are investigating the governor; pursuant to a National Assembly’s Public Investments Commitee (PIC) report.
That called for further investigations on how Ketraco lost Sh18 billion; in the Marsabit Wind farm and the Loiyangalani-Suswa;
Interrogation of former senior government officials
High voltage transmission line project,” said an EACC official in a grilling progress briefing at about 7.30 pm on Monday.
The EACC officials are believed to have already interrogated former senior government officials; and plan summon others in the coming days.
Barasa resigned as Ketraco boss in February; to contest for the Kakamega governor seat. Leaving just two months before his tenure ended in April.
Resignation as KETRACO Boss
He left office before responding to audit queries by the PIC.
EACC is investigating the power projects; following the PIC report indicating that taxpayers could have lost Sh18 billion.
The money was paid to the investors; behind the Lake Turkana Wind Power project. After delays to connect the firm to the national grid once it was ready to start generation.
Sh18.4 billion was paid as penalties
The Sh18.4 billion was paid as penalties. In the form of Deemed Generated Energy; between May 2017 and September 2018 according to evidence adduced to the PIC.
The PIC recommended investigations against the Ketraco managers; for breach of contract management including;
Failure to acquire transmission line wayleaves on time. And delay in signing additional contracts with the contractors who eventually built the power lines.
Public Investments Committee Recommendations
The PIC also recommended that the Ketraco managers; as well as the accounting officers at the Ministry of Energy, be held accountable. For failure to conduct an independent risk analysis for the project.
According to the PIC, the breaches had delayed completion of the transmission line. And exposed taxpayers to the delay penalties as stipulated in the contract with the wind farm investors.
At a cost of US$ 680 million (Sh70 Billion) covering the wind farm and transmission line; the project remains the single largest private investment in Kenya’s history.
Auditor General’s Report
The PIC investigation was triggered by the Auditor General Report; indicating that taxpayers could have lost the billions of shillings;
Through deliberate “omissions and commissions”. Which delayed completion of the transmission line.
PIC then chaired by Mombasa Governor Abdulswamad Shariff Nassir (then Mvita MP); invited EACC to probe and prosecute any possible culprits.
Flagship Public Private Partnership
The project, was a flagship Public Private Partnership (PPP) venture. Under the the Kenya Vision 2030 covering the energy sector; injecting an additional 300 MW into the national grid.
Meant to lower energy costs by enhancing power generation capacity. And diversifying the energy mix in addition to the existing hydro, geothermal;
And thermal generation streams.