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Hunt for new Pipeline chief resumes amid unease by MPs

By Wainaina Wambu | November 18th 2019 at 03:35:00 GMT +0300

Kenya Pipeline Company Chairman John Ngumi. [File, Standard]

Interviews for nine shortlisted candidates for the post of Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) managing director begin this week amid claims by MPs that the board is planning to impose its preferred candidate.

The interviews will take place between Thursday and Friday after which the board will forward the top three names to the Petroleum Cabinet Secretary John Munyes.

The CS has the option to pick one name or reject all three. 

The recruitment process has been steeped in controversy. In July, KPC invited qualified candidates to apply for the position, but in September it announced the recruitment would be done afresh, saying most applicants lacked “basic documentary requirements.”                                                               

KPC Chairman John Ngumi yesterday told The Standard that the board received 88 applications, with 30 candidates having now met requirements.

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The earlier recruitment had attracted 92 applications, with only three said to have met the minimum requirements, and no one was shortlisted, stalling the process.

“We did not have a sufficient pool of candidates to proceed to pick those who would be shortlisted for the final interview by the board,” said Mr Ngumi.

The first stage determines, among other things, the requirements in the advertisement.

In stage two, the Board Human Resources Committee (BHRC) takes forward the process. Observers from the Office of Inspector General of State Corporations and the Public Service Commission are present in both stages.

“Out of the 30, BHRC shortlisted nine for final interview by the full board,” said Ngumi.    

Last week, MPs from the Departmental Committee on Energy led by chair David Gikaria said there was no way a candidate would fail to be selected from the over 100 applicants unless there was soFme form of “interest by the board.”

Mr Gikaria blasted the board for what he termed “interference into management work”, which he said was ruining the parastatal.

The MPs were speaking during a committee session in which the KPC board was supposed to appear and shed more light on KPC operations but did not.

It instead sent an apology, saying it was preparing for the commissioning of the Kisumu Port and the Oil Jetty. 

“We got concerned that over 140 Kenyans can apply for a position, three are shortlisted and then you say the process was non-responsive,” said Gikaria who’s also the Nakuru Town East MP.

“It might be because the board never got a person, and maybe in its view, it was thinking… according to some quarters, it was specifically looking for a certain person,” he added.

Ngumi, however, defended the transparency of the recruitment process, saying the board would not risk its credibility, considering the recent scrutiny on the parastatal. 

“There’s a lot of attention currently on KPC. We have to be extremely transparent … it’s our reputation on the line here,” he said.

Ngumi said the interviews would be spread in the two days to encourage a fair hearing time for all the candidates.

The MPs had also questioned why KPC could not use a headhunting firm to fast track the process “like other State entities.”

“I don’t think KPC is an exception unless there’s something that they are trying to hide unless they have an MD they have kept in a store and want to unveil,” said Gem MP Elisha Odhiambo.

KPC Kenya Pipeline Company John Munyes John Ngumi
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