Drama played out today at the Central Rift Water Works Development Agency head offices after the embattled Chief Executive Officer Engineer Samuel Oruma was sent on compulsory leave amid investigations over the Sh1.7 billion procurement of Bomet-Mulot-Longisa water project.
Oruma unsuccessfully tried to defy the forceful exit by the board and allegedly threatened to whip his gun to block being served with suspension letter.
Instead, he claimed he had applied for leave and he would be back in office.
The Water Development Agency’s chairman Ndiritu Mathenge today announced the suspension of Engineer Oruma to pave way for investigations by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).
However, as the board named CPA Douglas Murei as the acting CEO, Engineer Oruma who spoke to the media immediately after his suspension defended himself against graft allegations leveled against him stating that he would cooperate with investigators.
He claimed that EACC had previously launched six investigations against him, including one that sought to verify his academic qualifications and to authenticate his professional credentials before exonerating him.
Mathenge disclosed that the board had suspended the CEO on advice of the government, which is the financier of the projects.
EACC is seeking to get to the bottom of the alleged multi-million rip-off that was started in April 2022 with a goal of benefiting over 300,000 residents of Chepalungu and Bomet Central constituencies in Bomet County.
The chairman clarified that the Board had not sacked Engineer Oruma adding that he deserved a hearing and that they will wait for investigative agencies to conclude their job before deciding the next course of action.
Tension reigned high after the board communicated the decision to Engineer Oruma as he protested the decision while allegedly brandishing a pistol in the closed board room.
Nevertheless, quick action by police officers from Kaptembwa Police Station who were on standby restored normalcy as the CEO was whisked away to record a statement over the scuffle.
The EACC is probing Engineer Oruma over allegations of irregular award of a tender for the construction of a water and sanitation system for Bomet-Longisa-Mulot towns to China Railways No 10 Engineering Group Limited at a cost of 1.7 billion.
It is alleged that he irregularly and fraudulently approved the change of specifications from use of steel pipes to the use of glass reinforced pipes (GRP) for the project.
EACC has indicated that this was despite concerns that were raised over GRP which are said to be inferior in terms of quality and much cheaper compared to steel pipes.
Addressing journalists within the Agency’s premises Mr. Oruma maintained that no money had been lost and that the tendering process had been done by his predecessors.
He said that his justification for issuing a green light for the proposal of change of pipes was that GRP pipes would save up to 2.5 percent of the project cost with a reduced construction period of 9 months
The Chief of Staff and Head of the Public Service Felix Koskei had last week asked the Board of Central Rift Valley Water Works Development Agency to suspend the Chief Executive Officer.
The Head of Public Service in letters to the chairman of the board said the CEO was in office, notwithstanding the gravity of allegations and the quantum of resources under inquiry.
Koskei said the inordinate delay in taking action on the part of the board of directors and the ministry is undermining the government’s war against corruption.
In a letter dated May 23, 2023, EACC instructed Oruma to furnish the commission with 28 crucial documents to assist in investigations key among them Budget estimates, procurement plans, tender documents including the advertisements, bid documents, documents detailing the tender evaluation committee and minutes of their meetings, signed contracts reports, payment vouchers and receipts among others.