When a graft case was brought against him and other senior managers in 2018, the prospect of Joe Sang’ ever returning to Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) as Managing Director looked extremely unlikely. But yet, 4 years later, that’s exactly what’s happening.
The Kenya Pipeline board has approved the appointment of Joe Sang as acting Managing Director, with the appointment taking effect immediately. He replaces Dr Macharia Irungu, whose contract was not renewed after a three year-stint at the parastatal.
Sang was appointed to the helm of the petroleum transportation, storage and handling behemoth in April 2016, but resigned at the end of 2018. He claims that the KPC board had him under immense pressure at the time, forcing his resignation.
Sang’ was cleared last week of all charges in a case regarding construction of the Kisumu Oil jetty, where it had been alleged that Ksh1.9 billion was lost. The court ruled in December that no the project’s planning was above board and no funds were lost. Sang’ had long denied any wrongdoing. He also observed that the project stemmed from a Presidential directive and had been praised as one of the bigger achievements of the previous administration led by former President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Sang’ is among a number of allies of President William Ruto who have seen their court cases dropped by prosecutors or thrown out by judges in the months since his election. Kenya Kwanza leaders have maintained that several cases against them were politically motivated attempts by the former administration to cripple them, terming them a witch hunt.
Several parastatal board members associated with the previous administration have been finding it difficult to hold on to their jobs under the new administration. Uhuru appointees replaced by Ruto at key parastatals include Vivienne Yeda at Kenya Power and Lewis Nguyai at the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF).
Earlier in January, John Ngumi exited his position as Chairman of the Safaricom board. The government holds a 35% stake in Safaricom, the region’s largest and most profitable company, and was said to be uncomfortable with Ngumi – a seasoned investment banker and corporate leader considered close to the previous administration – as chairman.
Sang had admitted in interviews that his circle of friends grew smaller after he was charged, and his phone rang less often. He took to running 70km a week, and focusing on his ventures including consultancy, a dairy farm in Kabianga, Kericho county and a herbs farm in Elburgon, Nakuru county.
“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 maintained.
But now, it’s back to the boardroom for Sang, with analysts keen on the company’s performance. KPC posted a Ksh1.6 billion net profit for the fiscal year ended June 2021, down from Ksh3.9 billion the previous year.