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Uhuru warns ‘corrupt’ port officials day of reckoning is coming

President Uhuru Kenyatta greets officials when he arrived at the Kipevu Oil Terminal, Port of Mombasa, to preside over the flag off ceremony of the first Kenyan crude oil shipment as well as receive the 3rd cohort of Seafarer recruits. Photo/PSCU.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 26- President Uhuru Kenyatta has put the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) officials on the spot over corruption while warning of imminent arrests and prosecution over the Sh40 billion Kipevu oil Terminal scandal.

Speaking when he flagged off Kenya’s first oil shipment on Monday, the Head of State said authorities are keenly monitoring activities at East Africa’s largest port in Mombasa, saying he is even aware of a planned go-slow, meant to sabotage the government.

“You will just read in the newspapers that someone has been picked up (by detectives). It is upon everyone to think over their actions. The culture of calling for help is no more, it will be upon you to defend yourself,” the President said.

He warned that; “Ni noma, hizo simu zilizimwa (Things are thick. Those phones were switched off.)

While the President did not go into details, his sentiments follows an investigation by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI). The Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission (EACC) has also been undertaking an investigation at the port.

Top Kenya Ports Authority officials led by Managing Director Daniel Manduku were early this year grilled over the contract, said to have been marred with malpractices.

Also grilled was his predecessor Catherine Muturi.

“Don’t that say I sent anyone. You will be caught doing your stuff, and these people are not joking. They will come for you,” he warned, adding that “We are monitoring, and we are watching. We already know the amount you intended to use and what we have spent.”

A United Kingdom-based Chinese company, ChemChina bought the first batch of 200,000 barrels of crude oil at Sh1.2 billion for export to Malaysia, raising Kenya’s profile as one of the world’s oil-exporting nations.

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Kenya’s journey to become an oil exporter began in 2012 when Tullow Oil discovered commercial oil reserves in the south Lokichar basin in the northern county of Turkana.

“This first oil pilot scheme has also brought with it prosperity for the people of Turkana but also the wider republic with very many local communities directly benefiting from employment opportunities in production and logistics,” said the president.

The history of oil and gas exploration in Kenya dates back to 1937 when the first attempt at the extraction of commercially viable oil were made. While these initial attempts were unsuccessful, Kenya’s potential for oil and gas had been established.

“Indeed our efforts came to fruition in when we 2012 when we discovered commercially viable deposits of oil in the south Lokichar basin in Turkana County and with that discovery, Kenya began her march towards becoming an oil producing nation,” he said.

Since last year, Tullow Oil has been running a pilot scheme of transporting some 2,000 barrels of oil per day by trucks to Mombasa from Turkana.

This is to test flow rates and other technical issues before the start of full production and exports via a pipeline to be built by 2022.

Tullow estimates that Kenya’s fields in Turkana hold up to 560 million barrels of oil and expects to produce up to 100,000 barrels per day from 2022.

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