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Time Is Catching Up With Ketraco Looter Fernandes Barasa As Auditor Questions Shady Sh25 Billion Contracts

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Ketraco MD & CEO Fernandes Barasa

Ketraco MD & CEO Fernandes Barasa at a past interview. Photo courtesy.

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Nobody understands the say desperate measures call for desperate solutions other than the drowning Ketraco Boss Fernandes Barasa who is now clutching on a straw by not answering why he authorises awarding of over Ksh.25 billions to broke foreign firms.

Things are not sitting pretty well with Ketraco MD and CEO Fernandes Barasa who has resolved to run for political office as a way of seeking protection. Running for political office has been the easiest path for every crook in Kenya.

“The reason he is running for Governor of Bungoma in 2022 is that he is guilty of corruption and seeks to do as others do; hide in politics.” A popular blog revealed.

Adding, “That’s what most shady businessmen and heads of parastatals do when they are in the corner. It has been proven time and again that politics shields someone from accountability”

It further described Mr Barasa as “a highly trained accountant who once headed the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya (ICPAK)” who “has used his position to loot Ketraco and build a foundation“.

It’s disturbing that under his watch as the CEO, the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (Ketraco) awarded contracts worth over Ksh25.6 billion to bankrupt or already collapsed foreign firms which failed to complete their jobs.

Auditor General Nancy Gathungu, in her review of Ketraco accounts as of June 2020, flagged the multi-billion projects — now under new contractors.

Ketraco after giving contracts to broke firms which collapse months later goes on to award new firms with fresh contracts that subject taxpayers to extra costs.

Gathungu, in the review of Ketraco’s accounts for the year ending June 2020, said that failure to complete the works in due time has hindered projects.

The events have raised serious questions on not only the viability of the projects but also the capacity of Ketraco to handle such projects.

Over the years, and with Mr Barasa in charge, Ketraco awarded lucrative contracts to firms that curiously turned out to be insolvent.

Among the firms that have pocketed billions despite doing nothing include Spanish firms Isolux Corsan, Instalaciones Inabensa, and India’s Jyoti Structures.

In one of the contracts, Instalaciones Inabensa was awarded a Ksh3.6 billion contract for the construction of the Lessos-Tororo transmission line. The company however failed to perform, forcing Ketraco to cancel the contract in 2016. To date, the project cost has risen to Ksh8.2 billion.

On February 12, Instalaciones Inabensa was awarded more than Ksh4.6 billion for wrongful termination.

Even as Ketraco stares at the loss of billions, a new completion date for the line is yet to be agreed on. Also, Ketraco has spent over Ksh220 million in litigation.

Already Ksh4.9 billion has been the project, with the transmission line 50 percent complete and a substation, which was part of the project, 61 percent complete. The line was meant to link Kenya to Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and DR Congo under the Nile Equatorial Lakes Programme.

The funding agreement with African Development Bank (ADB) expired in December 2017 and is yet to be renewed. Also, Ketraco did not engage ADB in the appointment of a new contractor.

“It is not possible to confirm when the matter will be resolved and how the cost in terms of legal fees that the company will incur will be reflected in the financial statements,” noted Auditor General Nancy Gathungu.

In another tender, Jyoti Structures Ltd was awarded a Ksh9.8 billion contract to build the Olkaria-Narok, Lessos-Kabarnet, Nanyuki-Rumuruti, Sultan Hamud-Mwingi high voltage transmission lines.

Jyoti was declared insolvent by Indian authorities, forcing Ketraco to cancel the contract and instead hired China CAMCE Company to complete the works. The completion date was moved to April 2020.

Ksh8.4 billion had been spent on the project as of June 2020, and the financier, ADB, has already withdrawn meaning the taxpayers will carry the burden directly.

The same company also had been awarded the Ksh7.6 billion 220kV Turkwel-Ortum-Kitale substations and the Machakos-Konza-Kajiado-Namanga transmission lines.

To add salt to injury, it is reported that Ketraco paid Ksh5.7 billion fine after Isolux Corsan failed to build the Loiyangalani-Suswa power transmission line to evacuate power from the Lake Turkana Wind Power.

The line has never been completed, and the remaining works were given to Nari Group Corporation and Power China Guizhou Engineering Company after Isolux went into receivership in 2018.

The line which cost Ksh28 billion went live in September 2018.

In another contract, Iberdrola Ingenieria of Spain had its Ksh4.9 billion contract terminated for non-performance. By the time it was canceled, the price had hit Ksh10.5 billion. The company was to build four substations at Athi River, Isinya, Ngong, and Komarock.

CG Holdings, a company contracted by Ketraco to construct the Meru-Isiolo-Nanyuki line collapsed, with the state agency now looking for a new firm. CG Holdings which is based in Belgium was declared bankrupt in February 2020.

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