When Vivienne Yeda Apopo was appointed to head the board of Kenya Power & Lighting Company Plc (KPLC), all the alarms went off. She was not suited for the job.
However, for many Kenyans who know how such appointments are made, it didn’t come as a shock.
In the last 8 years of the UhuRuto regime, the most corrupt, publicly, are the ones who get appointments since it is easier to help the despotic duo loot more without shame.
This is how the documented corrupt MD of East African Development Bank (EADB) found herself at the helm of KPLC.
It didn’t take time for the ground to start decaying more, Apopo is said to have started the looting at the parastatal from the word go.
First, Apopo was accused of holding board meeting more than it was required by Mwongozo. Mwongozo is the Code of Governance for State Corporations and the Act states that the board of management should only meet once a quarter.
Secondly, it was just a matter of time before wrangles over procurement kickbacks emerged.
In Kenya, corruption is budgeted and as such, projects are overpriced to cater for the bribes that the board or management will be given.
Sh1 billion overpriced tender
In August 2021, the CEO of KPLC Bernard Ngugi resigned in what later emerged as differences with the board over a Sh1 billion tender.
There were bitter exchanges between the top managers before Ngugi’s exit. He had become isolated as the chairperson often engaged a Ms Bore, the head of legal and regulatory affairs.
Ms Yeda is known for such manoeuvres even as she was at East African Development Bank (EADB). It does not come by surprise that this site called her out by stating categorically that KPLC’s Pick for board chair is a criminal.
Mismanagement also dogged EADB with Yeda Apopo at the helm.
Sources point to Ms Yeda being involved in the falsification of financial figures at EADB in 2015.
It is said that towards the end of the year 2015, Vivienne retained the services of Knight Frank to value the bank properties in Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania. Knight Frank carried the valuation and prepared a report which was presented to Yeda.
At KPLC the pattern of her criminality soon emerged.
What was a Sh200 million tender was cancelled by the board and pumped to Sh1 billion.
The board chair argued that the management had not incorporated most of the guidelines that the board had proposed in the insurance tender.
“Please track the board inputs. I don’t see any changes to the previous specs (specifications). The premium turnover should be a multiple of KP (Kenya Power) premium – not less than Sh1bn. See director Gudka and my comments and any others that the directors shared and refer to the minutes,” wrote Yeda in an email to Bore on July 20. Bore’s response a few minutes later did not assuage the chairperson, who is also the CEO of East African Development Bank.
“We are still waiting for the revised tender specs for insurance and the other project details. Kindly share with the board the template that has been developed on the basis of the government of Kenya guidelines I shared with you,” wrote Yeda in her response.
Frustrated by the response, Yeda asked the General Manager in Charge of Supply Chain Kipyegon Ngeno and Bore to send the minutes of that meeting on the day when specifications for the tender were discussed.
Reports indicate that Bore would finally bow to pressure, increasing the cost of the tender to Sh1 billion.
“Board members, we need to guide management and make proposals. My proposal is that the current premium volume of the prospective broker needs to be increased from Sh200 million to Sh1 billion, the guarantee from Sh3 million to Sh10 million and the professional indemnity cover from Sh200 million to Sh1billion. This should be justified based on the size of Kenya Power, the type of risks covered and the level of business being placed,” said Yeda in the email. She emphasised “a solid organisation structure and team with the ability to conduct risk surveys and specific experiences in the energy market locally and internationally”.
“MD please revert with the specs, urgently given the tight timelines you indicated,” she instructed. On June 17, Yeda sought from Ngugi the details of tenders on the Kenya Power’s website.
“Please send me a brief on the tender on meters, specifically on intended use (location and type of client) number being procured, (price subject to market survey). Is this a Kenya Power project or a donor project?” inquired Yeda. She added: “There are a number of EOI (expression of interest) that we requested, insurance, medical and motor vehicles. Kindly update and share the TOR (terms of reference) today.” She went ahead to seek the information from Bore who responded, in reference to their earlier conversation.
“Further to our conversation this evening, you asked for the following, an extract from the procurement plan 2021/2022 showing the major spend items to be procured in July showing the items, the procurement method and the expected spend. We will revert. As indicated, the paper on Medicare will be before the Corporate Governance Committee on Monday 21st June,” wrote Bore. Ngeno wrote to Bore saying he had a conversation with Ngugi regarding the smart meter that is currently running and is supposed to close on August 7.
“The board chair has directed that we cancel the tender. This is therefore to kindly request you to furnish me with board minutes on cancellation of the same so that I can progress the cancellation to assist me in ensuring that we are within the law on cancellation,” said Ngeno.
Easy way out
In the current coverage by the githeri mainstream media, the powerful cartels that are behind Ms Yeda are trying to look for an easy way out, a softer landing.
The massive theft by staff at KPLC is being swept under the carpet.
The lopsided contracts with the unnecessary Independent Power Producers (IPPs) is also being swept under the carpet.
IPPs are one of the main reasons power is expensive and KPLC, having been looted, cannot stand.
So the anting by senior state officials over the KPLC matter and the sponsoring of content in the mainstream media is just an easy way out for the thieves.
Nothing is being worked out to save wananchi, and that can be seen by the appointment of Vivienne Yeda Apopo instead of someone else at a time the utility form was in dire need of proper leadership.
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