Pipeline defends itself against claim of unnecessary board meetings

Kenya Pipeline has defended itself against allegations that it is holding unnecessary board meetings to gobble up taxpayers’ money.

In an interview with the Nation, John Ngumi, the chairman of the State corporation’s board of directors, defended the frequency of the meetings, saying they are intended to get the company back on track.

Mr Ngumi said the meetings enabled the board to correct problems at the Mombasa-Nairobi line, restructure the regional management, and enforce the adoption of the company’s new strategy.

“I make absolutely no apology (for the meetings). People have been saying: ‘Oh, the board has had many meetings and is micromanaging the management’. That, to me, is a lot of rubbish because if we do not deliver, you will not blame the management, but the board,” Mr Ngumi said.

He was reacting to complaints from senior staffers that the board had resorted to micromanaging Kenya Pipeline through frequent meetings.

EXPENSIVE ASSEMBLIES

Staffers who sought anonymity for fear of victimisation said the meetings were expensive as each board of 10 members earns Sh20,000 per siting.

“Why does the board want to micromanage the management? And what does the Mwongozo Guide on parastatals say on the frequency of meetings?” asked a staff member.

Between June 2015 and June last year, KPC spent Sh62.7 million on board meetings, according to the 2016 annual report, three times more than the Sh17.6 million paid out in the period to June 2015, highlighting the high cost of the meetings.

In the year ending June 2016, the board held 113 meetings — 30 full board meetings and 83 committee meetings — as well as 14 retreats and trainings. This year, the board is said to have held 80 meetings so far. There are three board committees, each with different roles: human resource, technical, and audit.

‘NO EXCUSE’

“I make no excuse for having the board’s technical committee meet the number of times it met to get the Mombasa-Nairobi Line 5 back on track. Likewise, I make no apologies for making the board’s Human Resource committee meet the number of times it met, to get the type of management structure we want,” Mr Ngumi said, while accusing the media of making the company “its favourite whipping boy.”

Managing director Joe Sang also defended the meetings.

Those on the board include Mr Ngumi, Mr Sang, National Treasury Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge, his petroleum counterpart Joseph Njoroge, Maj (Rtd) Iltasayon Neepe, Faith Jepkemboi Bett, and Wahome Gitonga. Others are Felicity Biriri, Marwa Kemero Maisori, and Jerry Simu. Energy ministry geologist Hudson Andambi serves as alternate to the Petroleum PS, while in the absence of Dr Thugge, he is represented by Mr Eric Korir from the National Treasury.

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