NAIROBI, Kenya Feb 15 – The National Oil Corporation of Kenya (NOC) has put the Ministry of Energy on the spot over the stalled distribution of 4.3 million cheap cooking gas cylinders to millions of poor households.
NOC Chief Executive Officer Mary-Jane Mwangi told the National Assembly Energy Committee that only the Ministry can give a comprehensive position on the status of the project in which the government was to buy five million gas cylinders by December and distribute them to the low and middle-income households at a reduced cost of Sh2,000.
The market price for a 6kg gas cylinder with cooking accessories is about Sh5, 000.
“My Principal Secretary would answer it best because it is a procurement that was done by the Ministry. I am only in charge of the roll-out and I told the DCI the same thing. I referred them to the Ministry and only they can explain what is there finding but so far I have not heard anything. I guess the investigations are still on-going,” she stated.
Mwangi explained that DCI ordered the suspension of the first phase of the plan valued at Sh700 million after an internal report prepared by the state oil marketer, showed it rejected 67,251 out of a total of 353,000 cylinders supplied by four local firms citing poor quality.
“When the cylinders came and they were coming in lots, we inspected and accepted 62,271, those pending inspection are 75,662. For us the cylinders that we had rolled out between 2017 and 2018 were 28,035, those are ones in Kajiado and Machakos where the project is still on,” she said.
Mwangi said that the rejected cylinders were sub-standard, including having faulty valves that posed the danger of fire eruptions.
The state oil marketer appealed to the Committee to intervene to save the taxpayer from incurring further loses because the cylinders are depreciating in value while they lay unused in the open air at various sub-county administrator offices.
“We were not able to access any more cylinders in our warehouse and others are at our depots awaiting the court case in March and the DCI outcome.”
“Even as the cylinders continue to be out there they continue depreciating, they need to be in circulation,” the NOC chief executive added.
Project Mwananchi was launched by the government in October 2016 as cheaper cooking gas subsidy plan aimed at cutting reliance on kerosene and charcoal, which are not environment-friendly.