PR Overdrive: Corrupt Ketraco MD Fernandes Barasa Buys Media Silence

Mr. Fernandes Barasa has been the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Kenyan Electricity Transmission Company (Ketraco) since April 2016. During that time, the former top accountant at ICPAK has learnt to swim in the murky waters of corruption and politics in Kenya.

The man who has been exposed for swindling money from Kenyans through fraudulent compensation claims during the construction of some transmission lines in the country has now taken to the media to buy their silence in exposing the rot at the agency.

Mr. Barasa has bought spaces in blogs and media to write good stories about him in a bid to throw off the publics and DCI on the mega scandals at the govt agency.

It should be remembered that Mr Fernandes once ran away like a mad man from a hotel where coincidentally DCI Boss George Kinoti was coming in.

He was afraid thinking that the DCI boss was coming for him for the fraudulent payments that Ketraco had done to compensate Kenyans along the Mombasa – Nairobi transmission line.


The Ketraco Scandal

Kenyans were swindled the money by the management of Ketraco through fraudulent payments disguised as real. On paper, the money was paid to genuine landowners on whose property Ketraco put up electricity transmission lines, but detectives believe a huge percentage of the money was swindled by officials at the State agency.

Detectives say one case in Kisaju, Kajiado County, where a landowner was paid 10 times more than the value of his land, mirrors hundreds of others during the construction of the Mombasa-Nairobi transmission line.

It was through collusion between managers at Ketraco and the landowners that this scam was pulled-off, has learnt.

Most of the payments were wired back as kickbacks to the CEO and his close allies at Ketraco.

‘Some of the land were bought by senior managers at Ketraco, who then went forth to sell the land at extremely high prices, this also explains the delay in some payments’, a source who wrote to stated

As reported numerous times by the local media, land compensations in the mega projects undertaken in recent times has been the cash cow for senior managers in such government bodies as Kenya Railways Corporation (SGR line collusion with National Land Commission), Kenya Pipeline Company (construction of the pipeline), National Youth Service just to mention a few.

In February 2019, DCI Boss Kinoti confirmed that indeed the police intelligence body was investigating various transactions involving the Mombasa-Nairobi line that Ketraco had built.

An internal audit, by Ketraco, on the project indicated that the Tsavo-Embakasi phase was delayed by four years and six months, and that these delays had “a huge cost impact to Ketraco as the contractors claimed their overheads, idling equipment and manpower, stoppages, acceleration, mobilisation and demobilisation”.

To make matters worse, the supply lines and sub-stations were vandalised even before they were completed, and the internal audit found that a transmission line with an installed capacity of 950MW was only evacuating 20MW, a two-per-cent capacity.

Auditors noted that there were no standard compensation rates for limited use of land, thus giving officials a chance to negotiate different payments for similar land.

Documents from the Ksh14.2 billion scandal showed that that detectives have zeroed in on a test-case in Kajiado, where a landowner was paid Sh35.6 million for 8.4 acres of land. The market value of the land, detectives note, was Sh4.5 million.

Initially, the then Ketraco managing director, Mr Joel Kiilu, had written to the landowner telling them that the wayleave will traverse only 8.5 acres, and that the value of land in Kisaju was Sh1.8 million.

“The compensation amount will, therefore, be Sh4.59 million, based on the acreage affected by the power line,” Mr Kiilu said in the letter dated February 20, 2013.

But the owner argued that he intended to sell the land to his employees at a cost of Sh500,000 per eighth of an acre. At the time, the land had not been subdivided and the property was still in his name as a single unit.

Investigators say Ketraco allowed the landowner to carry out his own valuation of the property, and that three officials at Ketraco “conspired” to pay the hefty amount.

Ketraco’s then land economist, Ms Salome Munubi, in a letter dated October 28, 2013, told the managing director to pay the amount indicated by a valuation report undertaken “on the instruction of (Ketraco).”

“This was not true as the valuer had been instructed by the owner of the land,” an investigation brief revealed.

A Nairobi firm commissioned by Ketraco had put the value at Sh1 million per acre, but the parastatal’s officials allowed the owners of the land to bring in independent valuations, which pushed the prices to between Sh2 million and Sh2.8 million an acre.

Moreover, the Ketraco land economist had told the MD that the plots “had been allocated to members”, but minutes in our possession indicate that the deal had not been sealed between the transport tycoon and his employees.

‘Most of that money in the Okaria -Lesos – Kisumu project will be stolen, I can tell you for free’, a staffer at Ketraco said.

Auditors had also noted that another company was paid Sh72 million with no paperwork or valuation of its land in Kajiado.

An analysis by renowned economist David Ndii showed that as at last year, Ketraco must have lost over Ksh150 billion.

“Ketraco is a bigger channel of budget plunder than the National Youth Service (NYS) by far. I estimate KSh 150 billion was stolen through transmission lines budget,” Ndii stated in his article titled, “highway robbery and sex toys: Plunder by the numbers”.

Moving on, Ketraco CEO was also questioned over the 435-kilometre Loiyangalani-Suswa transmission line where different figures were given as construction costs.

Ketraco said Sh28.9 billion has so far been spent, contradicting a March 2018 figure it gave to the committee of Sh30 billion.

In March last year, the National Assembly’s Energy committee directed Ketraco the CEO to harmonise the figures given by the electricity company, the Treasury and the Ministry of Energy.

Everything went silent afterwards.

As to why the scandals have not shaken Mr Barasa, it is alleged that he pays a top Rift Valley politicians some kickbacks for protection. Many believe that it is DP Ruto.

This is because the second in command has always had his men in the energy sector, starting with Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter who acts as a middle man.

‘Huyo mtu anapeananga pesa kwa mkubwa wa Rift Valley, unaelewa. Hata kuna plans ya kutumia pesa kufanya campaigns za kupinga BBI’, the source stated.

Fernandes Barasa is a crook who should be mentioned alongside the Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) Plc mafioso who have saddled Kenyans with high electricity bills through theft and rigging of systems, fraudulent tenders, and promotion of poor workmanship.

The Sh16b Olkaria-Lessos-Kisumu

The above project is mooted to be a gamechanger for the people in western Kenya. However, what everyone doesn’t ask including he authorities charged with investigating corruption, is how comes the theft of over Ksh14.2 billion on the last project is not being talked about.

As a potential 2022 gubernatorial aspirant, Mr Fernandes Barasa is looking for the money to run and going by the lost Ksh14.2 billion’, it seems the theft will be the same. Some staff members and people who are conversant with his style of leadership are adamant about his handling of the Ksh16 billion Olkaria – Lessos – Kisumu transmission line project.

‘Most of that money will be stolen, I can tell you for free’, a staffer at Ketraco said.

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