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Ksh Sh2bn error

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DAVID MWERE

By DAVID MWERE
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Kenyans will fork out at least Sh2 billion to have a leak detection system installed on the new Mombasa-Nairobi pipeline in a costly management blunder blamed on Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) managers.

The sourcing of a contractor to instal the system that will determine the speed of response and minimise damage to the environment could push the cost of the 450-kilometre pipeline at least Sh64 billion.

Lebanese firm Zakhem International Construction (ZIC) was hired by KPC to build the line at Sh49 billion.

It was to be completed on September 30, 2016 but a series of delays saw the project commissioned in 2018.

KPC also hired Shengli Engineering and Consulting Company (SLECC), a Chinese company, for Sh12 billion to supervise construction of the pipeline.

Though Zakhem wanted to instal the leak detection system at an extra cost of Sh400 million during the construction of the line, KPC never saw the sense behind it.

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KPC managers instead sought to have the system procured as a separate component.

The decision by KPC on the vital component and its high procurement cost are the subject of investigations by the National Assembly Energy Committee.

Fafi MP Abdikarim Osman – who is a member of the committee – says KPC top officials have not convinced the panel chaired by Nakuru Town East MP David Gikaria why Zakhem was not allowed to instal the gadget.

“KPC management is very opaque. Had Zakhem been allowed to instal the detector, Kenyans would not be asked to pay the Sh2 billion,” Mr Osman said.

In a May 22, 2019 letter to KPC acting General Manager Infrastructure Joseph Kones, Zakhem says the system would have minimised leakages and damage to the environment.

The letter also says it would be more costly to instal the system since the pipeline would have to be activated first.

“Installation of the system was cancelled by KPC at the last minute,” Zakhem Project Manager John Begisen says.

Cases of leakages and illegal siphoning of oil valued at billions of shillings have been reported, with fears that Kenyans could be made to pay for the unnecessary losses.

At least 194,000 litres of petroleum products belonging to oil marketing companies, reportedly, was lost during a spillage in Kiboko, Makueni County, last year.

Already KPC is in contact with the marketers on how they will be compensated, most likely at the taxpayers’ expense.

“With our experience in construction of pipelines, repairs and replacement of existing ones, ZIC had foreseen such problems,” the letter says.

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