Exposed: Shame of Failed Cooking gas state Project.
Auditor General says no clear plan in place to fully implement multi-million shilling venture
The National Oil gas refilling plant was launched on November 8,2014.
At least Sh1.1 billion that the Jubilee government pumped into a project where all vulnerable households were to get a 6kg cooking gas cylinder may have as well gone down the drain.
This is amid new audit findings that the thousands of gas cylinders the government, then under the stewardship of President Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto as Deputy President, acquired for the cause are lying idle in stores.
At least 79,057 gas cylinders of the about 358,000 acquired for the Jubilee’s ambitious multibillion-shilling venture were found to be defective.
The Mwananchi Liquefied Petroleum Gas Project was initiated by the now-defunct Ministry of Energy and Petroleum in 2016.
It was intended to promote use of modern cooking fuels among the low-income households, which were to be mapped and each furnished with a cylinder, a burner, and grill.
The project entailed supply and distribution of LPG cylinders, grills, and burners to households at subsidized prices.
The government was also to construct facilities to store the cylinders at local distribution points for ease of access by the beneficiaries.
But Auditor General Nancy Gathungu has pointed out that there were uncertainties in the implementation of the project due to lack of critical policies.
The project, she said, lacked implementation strategy detailing how the project was started and overall sustainability plan.
Her doubts worsened amid findings there was no beneficially identification mechanism for the LPG cylinders and 20,000 low burner tabletop cookers.
Gathungu also pointed out the lack of smart metering service and technical support for dispensing LPG from the source point to consumers who constituted the point of use.
“In the circumstances, it could not be confirmed that the public obtained value for money on the Sh1,104781,654 incurred in the implementation of the project,” the auditor general said in the bold report presently before Parliament.
Mwananchi Gas project was to be implemented by the National Oil Corporation of Kenya and was to ensure the LPG components were distributed to the targeted households.
The project was to be implemented in two modules.
The first module entailed distribution of subsidized filled 6kg cylinders fitted with a grill and a burner as a pilot in 11 constituencies in Nairobi.
The second phase involved distribution of filled 6kg cylinders with a smart metering device, a horse pipe and two low burner tabletop cookers.
An independent inspector contracted by the Energy and Petroleum ministry following safety concerns raised by consumers found the cylinders defective.
This led to suspension of the project in 2019, with the venture ending up being a white elephant.
Gathungu said an audit verification carried out on December 15, 2022 revealed that the 6kg cylinders purchased were yet to be distributed.
The site visit further established that 72,000 two-burner low pressure tabletop cookers were also yet to be distributed.
“The items were lying at the warehouses rented by the Ministry and National Oil Corporation of Kenya,” Gathungu reported.
She revealed the Sh1,104,781,654 had been incurred for the purchase of LPG cylinders and accessories.
The money was also spent on inspection of the cylinders, accessories and purchase of two-burner low pressure tabletop cookers.
The revelations came against the backdrop of a plan by Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza administration to ramp up the cooking gas venture.
As part of its interventions to bring down the cost of cooking gas, the new administration is also seeking to open the LPG market to other industry players.
Political pundits have read an attempt to cut the dominance of East Africa Spectre Limited, a firm associated with Azimio leader Raila Odinga.
President Ruto recently announced plans to reduce the cost of a 6kg gas cylinder to about Sh500 by June.
It remains unclear how the government intends to achieve the drastic cut but subsidies are said to be in the offing.
In what could pass off as the baby steps in the plan, the President last week launched an LPG refilling plant at the Coast region.
Works to set up the plant owned by Taifa Gas founded by Tanzanian billionaire Rostam Aziz are underway.