After being forced out of office in December 2018 following corruption allegations, former Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) managing director Joe Sang says he had to find something productive to do while he was not appearing in court for the hearings.
Mr Sang, a governance and leadership expert, settled on consultancies and dairy farming on his farm at Kabianga, Kericho County and farming herbs in Elburgon, in the neighbouring Nakuru County.
He also took to running and jogging to keep himself fit and relieve tension, doing an average of 70 kilometres a week.
Of course, Mr Sang had heard of the familiar stories about the shrinking circle of friends for senior government officials and company executives when the misfortune of unemployment strikes.
But the four years he spent in court corridors still felt like a new lesson in life about relationships.
“It has made me know who true friends are. Many ‘friends’ fell off. My phone used to ring every five to 10 minutes, but [after he was charged] it would go for hours without ringing,” he says.
The former Kenya Pipeline MD was acquitted last week and is happy that there are friends and family members who stood by him and kept encouraging him as the case progressed in court.
“My family remained steadfast and the cornerstone of my stability,” he says.
During the hearing, he says, he was not a worried man because he believed he was innocent.
“With my conscience very clear, I was at peace with myself knowing very well that I had done everything within the law. That I performed my job as required of me,” he says.
Mr Sang was appointed the MD of the State corporation responsible for storage, transportation and delivery of petroleum products towards the end of April 2016.
But his tenure was cut short after he was forced to resign in December 2018 under what he terms as immense pressure and duress.
A few days later, he was arrested and presented in court together with other senior managers over the construction of the Sh1.9 billion Kisumu oil jetty.
His travel outside the country was restricted after depositing his passport in court as part of the condition for his release.
Mr Sang had been charged together with former KPC company secretary Gloria Khafafa, manager of the supply chain Vincent Cheruiyot, manager of infrastructure Billy Asaka, procurement manager Nicholas Gitobu and general manager of finance Samuel Odoyo.
They were charged with abuse of office, engaging in a project without prior planning, and wilful failure to comply with guidelines relating to the management of public funds in the construction of the Kisumu oil jetty costing Sh1.9 billion.
But the court rejected the claims in its decision, saying that due process was followed and the project was implemented as planned.
The court noted that the project was conceived in 2006, way before Mr Sang and his co-accused joined the State corporation.
The former MD maintains the Kisumu oil jetty was a presidential directive and his team delivered it within the timelines and planned budget.
The tender, he says, was never contested at the procurement board or in court and there were no complaints from any quarters despite its magnitude.
The contract, he says, was awarded to Southern Engineering Company after a competitive tender process.
He chuckles when he remembers former President Uhuru Kenyatta highlighting the jetty as a game-changer in the transportation of petroleum products in the lake region and pointing out the project as being among the successes of his administration.
During Mr Sang’s tenure at KPC, the company’s profitability increased year on year to Sh12.5 billion in 2018, the highest ever in its history to date.
The company’s performance has been on a decline since then.
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Key projects completed during that time include Line 5- the Mombasa-Nairobi pipeline, which was at 11 per cent when he took over.
The completion of Line 6, the 122-kilometre pipeline from Sinendent to Kisumu, enhanced product supply in Kisumu, and built additional storage tanks in Nairobi, bottom loading facility in Eldoret, automation of actuators and key meters among other capital projects.
It was also during the period that the company developed and finalised the curriculum for Morendat Centre of Excellence for Oil and Gas Pipelines as well as planning for infrastructure development for the centre.
Mr Sang says he also led the initiative to reclaim lost export markets and lobbied the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) for the synchronisation of loading and clearance hours at KPC depots.
Mr Sang is also credited with negotiating the capacity sharing initiative (Ullage) to be managed by KPC and tariff review with Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), as the last review was done in 2009.
The former MD says he also resolved the historical product deficit of 15 million litres dating back to the 2009 issue and maintained a positive cash flow for the company by paying creditors on time and collecting debts when due with a closing balance of Sh6.3 billion as of November 30, 2018.
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The company recently communicated to oil marketers on plans to start operations of the jetty after remaining idle since it was completed.
The delay has been blamed on the failure to complete the construction of the receiving jetty in Entebbe, Uganda.
“The Kisumu project was started when Uganda’s jetty was at about 20 per cent done,” Mr Sang says.
The court in its judgment noted that during Mr Sang’s tenure, the KPC also achieved the 30 per cent Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO), a policy to facilitate the youth, women, and persons with disabilities participation in government tenders.
“This is one of those clear cases where people did a commendable job but ended up being vilified. They should have been given a state commendation for doing a good job,” the magistrate observed while acquitting them.
Following the acquittal, Mr Sang says he is taking it easy as he reflects on his life’s journey.
“We are happy that the court noted that we only implemented what had already been planned, approved, and budgeted. We did not exceed the budget and all payments were certified as required,” he says, adding that he is not bitter with anyone.
Mr Sang describes himself as a family man and an accomplished business leader with extensive experience in both the private and public sectors.
A holder of an MBA from the University of Nairobi and Certified Public Accountant CPA (K) with extensive international training in governance and leadership in energy, among other fields, he previously worked at National Oil, Unga, and East African Breweries Ltd (EABL).
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