20 March 2019

Kenya: Charles Keter Declines to Answer Queries On Sh74bn Project

A standoff ensued between a Senate committee and Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter on Wednesday.

Mr Keter declined to answer queries from the committee saying that he was under instruction from Attorney General not to comment on the Sh74 billion Lake Turkana wind power project.

Appearing before the Senate Energy Committee, Mr Keter said the matter was actively in court and he was under instructions from the legal government adviser not to talk about it.

"I'm not refusing to answer any question, I'm more than ready to put all the facts on the table as I have nothing to hide. However, I must consult the Attorney General so that he can advise me on how to handle the matter," CS Keter told the committee.

The remarks did not however, go down well with the senators who accused the CS of using court proceedings to escape accountability regarding the project.

PREJUDICE

"The questions raised regarding this project will not prejudice any proceedings in any court of law. No amount of court proceedings can stop accounting probity on a matter of public interest," said Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang'ula.

"It is a sad day for this House for the CS to come here and say the Attorney General has gagged him from engaging with the committee. It is a matter of interest of the public vs legal escapists being said by the CS," Mr Wetang'ula said.

Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina told the minister that the Senate is an independent House and that the questions raised regarding the project are not sub-judice.

Activist Okiya Omtatah went to court last year seeking to stop any further payments to Lake Turkana Wind Power Limited. He claimed that the firm had received Sh39 billion without supplying any energy.

ANSWERS

The CS was invited after Mr Wetang'ula had sought answers in the floor of the House on the viability of the project as senators called for a thorough audit to establish why Lake Turkana Wind Power Company Limited, contracted by Kenya Power in 2015 to generate 300 megawatts of power, was being paid for services not rendered.

They also want to establish whether the contractual agreement to supply power to the national grid was breached.

The senators were also seeking answers on why the Government abandoned its feed-in-tariffs policy and syndicated loan from the Spanish government of Sh17 billion plus its contribution of Sh3 billion through the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company to construct the line.

After a push and pull between senators and the CS who was accompanied by ministry officials, the committee chairman Senator Ephraim Maina (Nyeri) called for a five-minutes break to allow senators consult on the way forward.

LIABLE

After the break, the committee insisted that Mr Keter had to answer the questions regarding the project.

"This matter should proceed as court proceedings cannot impede the work of this committee," Senator Maina said.

The CS however, maintained that he could only proceed on the advice of the Attorney General.

"I have to go back and ask the Attorney General on how to answer your questions. I will be held liable if anything happens because I was advised not to discuss the matter," CS Keter said.

The committee resolved that the CS should appear before it again on Monday next week to answer questions regarding the project.

"We are not answerable to the Attorney General. This matter will proceed on Monday without fail as we have Kenyans looking at us and waiting for answers," Senator Maina said.

Kenya

2 Dead in Suspected Anthrax Outbreak

Two people have died in Meru from suspected anthrax outbreak that has left nine other fighting for their lives. Read more »

See What Everyone is Watching

Copyright © 2019 The Nation. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.