(Energy PS Joseph Njoroge with his predecessor at KPLC Ben Chumo during the handing over ceremony in 2013: photo courtesy)
As the war against corruption is hightened, there are individuals who will always find a way in any of the scandal they are mentioned in. One such character is Joseph Njoroge who was appointed the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum in May 2013 and became the PS in the State Department for Energy following re-organization of government in December 2015.
Njoroge served as the Managing Director of the Kenya Power since June 2007 until May 2013 when he was appointed PS Energy.
In all that period, Mr Njoroge ensured he silenced the media from reporting or even questioning his role in the KPLC scandals.
During his tenure as the Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) boss, the company became one of the most ineffective companies in Kenya. Power outages lasting a week in some areas, conmanship through prepaid meters, inflated power tariffs, scanty information regarding the inconveniences caused by the company.
“I remember during his tenure, we experienced consistent power outages for periods of up to 4 days. The numerous calls we made to the company help-line did not change a thing as they always promises to take action and it would end there.” A source recalls
Adding, “If it was not a power blackout then it was a transformer that was vandalized and it would take KPLC at least a month to fix. this was common as transformers were often placed in an uninhabited area with no security measures put in place.”
KPLC under Njoroge did not care about millions of Kenyans who depend on electricity for their daily businesses. Corruption took center stage at the company.
Kenyans still remember how Joseph Njoroge, then serving as KPLC MD & CEO, when asked on a local TV interview if the inefficiency in KPLC was as a result of the monopoly they enjoyed, then claimed in his response that KPLC faces competition from Kerosene, firewood and biogas. With his knowledge as engineer and a PhD holder, he assumed that those using alternatives to electricity for power were doing so because they liked it thus competition. The reality is that the charcol, paraffin users always wish they had electricity.
It is only the well-connected Joseph Njoroge’s term as the KPLC boss that has ever been renewed 6 months before it’s expiry. As to why it was renewed six months earlier still remain a topguarded secret in the heart of this slippery man and the powers that be.
The powerful Joseph Njoroge allegedly ensured Ben Chumo took over from him as the KPLC boss with clear instructions to protect his misdeeds at the company.
Ben Chumo would later become his sacrificial lamb in July 2018 over the Sh4.6 billion procurement scandal at Kenya Power where faulty transformers were procured, a deal that was signed in 2012 and at a time Joseph Njoroge was the MD for KPLC.
In July 2018, PS Joseph Njoroge’s name was intentionally ommitted by detectives in the list of suspects in the Sh4.6 billion procurement scandal at Kenya Power where sub-standard transformers were supplied, this led to prosecution of former CEO Ken Tarus, his predecessor Ben Chumo, the then KPLC General Manager Regional co-ordination Peter Mwicigi, Beatrice Meso (corporate affairs and company secretary), and other top managers.
Ben Chumo was not a member of the procurement board but rather a member of the Human resource department when the faulty transformers were procured in the 2011/2012 financial year when Njoroge was at the helm of the Kenya Power.
Chumo did not even participate in the cancellation of part of that tender which was fraudulently awarded. He was purely sacrificed.
Though it causes Dr Chumo a job as the chairperson at the Salaries and Remuneration commission (SRC), but he is bearing a yoke which is not his but the slippery Njoroge.
This prompted a guy by the name Justus Kimeli Rotich who petitioned the High Court in early 2019 accusing the Director of Public Prosecutions of targeting certain individuals while leaving out people who were directly involved in the procurement process.
“Njoroge was the KPLC Managing Director from June 2007 to May 2013 when some of the alleged procurement offences were committed but the prosecution decided to leave him out which amounts to selective prosecution and abuse of power,” he argued.
Adding, “Some of the offences are alleged to have taken place from August 2012 when Njoroge was at the helm of KPLC. It’s not possible to charge Chumo who took over from him in 2013 and Tarus who was appointed in 2017 and leave out the person who initiated the projects,”
Kimeli did not succeed in his attempts to compel the DPP and the Director of Criminal Investigations to investigate and charge PS Njoroge with the same offences that were facing Tarus and Chumo; thanks to PS Njoroge’s connection with the Kenyattas.
This happened days after Lawyer Katwa Kigen established that Mr Linus Ndegwa, a witness in the above scandal, was allegedly asked by detectives to drop the ‘good’ PS name.
Back in 2015, a company registered as Muwa Trading Company Ltd whose directors are James Njenga Mungai, Antony John Mungai and Grace Wanjira Mungai, had supplied the state corporation with defective transformers. These defective transformers saga, and which have cost the tax payers a staggering Sh4.6 billion has also been linked to unprecedented high cost of power to the Kenyan consumer, not to mention incessant disruptive power outages across the country. These were happening at the watch of PS Joseph Njoroge and nothing has been done about it.
It’s the same period where replacement of wood poles that were costing only sh5000 were replaced with cemented poles costing a whopping sh27000. Remember the wood poles were more durable compared to the the cemented poles.
The efforts by the offfice of Public Prosecutor and the Directorate of Criminal Investigation to have the culprits in this high economic crime case did not bear fruits as key prosecution files disappeared mysteriously disappeared.
Mid last year, the energy PS Joseph K Njoroge rushed to defend the Total Boss on EPRA board. And he got away with it because he belongs to untouchables.
Since Njoroge was appointed the energy PS, the sector has witnessed major scandals but not a single day has he been arrested or mentioned in any of those scandals. The media has been equally silenced.
Out of the many scandals that happened at the PS Njoroge’s watch including KPC inflation of contracts that Kenyans lost sh95 billion, the Ketraco scandal where sh6.3 billion disappeared, lake Turkana wind power sh5 billion, KPC oil Jetty sh1.8 billion, Geothermal development contract sh3.3 billion, KPC pricing scandal that cost tax payers over sh4.4 billion, KPC oil spillage scandal that stood at sh2.5 billion, KPLC contract scandal where sh4.5 billion were lost, has been met with some silence.
Sources now claim that detectives are keen on the anti leak detector rejection scandal that resulted in spillage, frequent major leaks on the Sh48 billion pipeline, exposing KPC to losses of billions of shillings through fuel siphoning.
They believe this is a scandal that no senior officer in the energy sector will escape.
However, those close to PS Njoroge are already boasting how the untouchable PS will escape any arrest. That he will be the last person to be arrested, maybe after the Kenyattas.
If truly President Uhuru Kenyatta is committed to crack the whip in the energy sector in his bid to fight corruption, then PS Njoroge is the man to go for. But will he?