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Kenya Power starts staff lifestyle audit as State freezes new hiring

BUSINESS
By Kamau Muthoni | November 20th 2021
By Kamau Muthoni | November 20th 2021
BUSINESS

Kenya Power employees working on a site to restore electricity. [File, Standard]

Kenya Power has started to scrutinise the lifestyles of its over 10,000 employees as it seeks to root out rogue ones who may have been siphoning money from the electricity distributor.

This is even as the Energy ministry froze recruitment across all State-owned entities in the power sector until it concludes reforms in the industry, which include the vetting of Kenya Power employees.

Kenya Power has set up what it calls the KPLC Vetting Team to look into the lifestyles and wealth of all employees and their families. The audit team will also look into whether the wealth was acquired through legitimate means.

In a memo to staff on Thursday, the power distributor told all employees that they have up to Monday to supply the team with details about their wealth, listing such assets as property, vehicles and stocks as well as loans and holidays.

The employees will also be required to supply the vetting team with the details of their immediate family members (such as spouses, children, parents and siblings), business associates and other relations that are of a financial nature.

The employees will give details of their companies that have had dealings with Kenya Power. “To this end, all staff members are hereby notified and urgently required to provide the information listed herein… in sealed envelopes addressed to ‘Head of KPLC Vetting Team’… to be received at the sixth-floor boardroom, Stima Plaza, by close of businesses Monday, November 22, 2021,” said the memo by the company’s General Manager in charge of human resource and administration.

The employees will also supply the vetting team with their social media handles. The probe into the lifestyles of employees comes after recommendations by the Presidential Task force on Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs).

The task force in a report handed to President Uhuru Kenyatta in September recommended that Kenya Power audits itself as some problems facing the electricity sector are caused by a segment of its employees.

It recommended that the firm “undertakes a suitability vetting of staff, assuring itself of the qualifications, competencies and integrity of officer and staff working in the organisation”. “Use of wealth declarations to verify unexplained wealth should be initiated through the Ethics And Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to secure assurance of this value ideal.”

Kenya Power recently suspended 59 employees, all senior members of its supply chain and logistics department.

This, it said, would pave way for investigation into possible procurement malpractices that have threatened the sustainability of the company while exposing Kenyans to high power bills. This was also in line with the recommendations of the task force on PPAs, which in its report noted that the procurement department was a major problem within Kenya Power.

It had recommended the replacement of the entire procurement team, with a number of them likely to face the sack depending on what investigations reveal.

The company put in place a team that will oversee procurement on an interim basis. President Kenyatta directed the Energy ministry to ensure all the recommendations are implemented. He appointed another committee – mostly made of members of the task force who had authored the report – to oversee its implementation.

The Energy ministry has also frozen hiring across all State-owned entities in the electricity sector until the reforms that the government is implementing are concluded.

“Upon assumption of office as the Cabinet Secretary Energy, I directed… (through communication) dated October 26, 2021, that no recruitment should be undertaken by all energy entities,” said Juma in a November 8 letter, alerting the head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua about the developments in the sector. Kinyua had okayed Kenya Electricity Transmission Company to hire staff.

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