Embattled Central Rift Valley water agency CEO Samuel Oruma sent on compulsory leave

Drama as Rift water boss Samuel Oruma in altercation with board members after suspension

There was gun drama on Tuesday afternoon at the Central Rift Valley Water Works Development Agency offices in Nakuru City, after embattled Chief Executive Officer Samuel Oruma attempted to block the water firm agency board members from handing him a letter communicating his suspension.

The water firm CEO was involved in a brief altercation with the board members led by the chairman Mr Ndiritu Mathenge and brandished his pistol to scare them away from the boardroom, where they wanted to communicate the decision to send him on compulsory leave.

The scuffle caused panic at the water firm offices, located on Prison Road in Nakuru City, forcing everyone including employees to scamper for their safety.

However, police from Kaptembwo Police Station, who were on standby swung into action and calmed the situation, before disarming Mr Oruma.

Mr Oruma was later whisked away to Kaptembwo Police Station, to record a statement over the scuffle.

When queried by journalists, Mr Oruma denied there was a gun-related altercation. 

Mr Oruma,who is being investigated over Sh1.7 billion procurement of the Longisa –Mulot water project, was on Tuesday sent on compulsory leave.

The water firm board chairman announced the suspension of Mr Oruma, to allow for investigations into the alleged procurement irregularities.

He said the board has appointed CPA Douglas Murei to take over in acting capacity.

“The board took on the matter and on the advice of the government,which is the financier of the projects, has unanimously agreed to send the CEO for a compulsory leave, to allow for investigations into the matter,”Mr Mathenge told the press.

"We have sent the CEO on compulsory leave,we have not sacked him, because everyone deserves a fair hearing and so we will wait for the investigative agency to conclude investigations, so that we can know the next cause of action,”added Mr Mathenge.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) is investigating Eng. Oruma over allegations of irregular award of a tender for the construction of a water and sanitation system for Bomet - Longisa - Mulot Towns to China Railways No. 10 Engineering Group Ltd at a cost of Ksh.1.7 billion.

What may perhaps fuel Oruma’s woes are allegations that he irregularly and fraudulently approved the change of Specifications from the use of Steel Pipes to the use of Glass Reinforced Pipes (GRP) for the project.

This is in spite of the concerns that were raised over the GRP pipes which are said to be inferior in terms of quality and much cheaper compared to steel pipes.

It is said that as part of the justification by Engineer Oruma for issuing a green light for the proposal for change of pipe material, was that GRP pipes would save up to 2.5 per cent of the project cost with a reduced construction period of nine months.

EACC is seeking to unravel the depth of the multi-billion shillings’ scam in a project that was launched in April 2022 and was set to benefit over 200,000 residents in Bomet Central and Chepalungu constituencies in Bomet County.

In a letter dated May 23 2023, EACC instructed the CEO to furnish the commission with 28 crucial documents to assist in investigations key among them: Budget estimates, procurement plans, tender documents including the advertisements, bid documents, documents detailing the tender evaluation committee and minutes of their meetings, signed contracts reports, payment vouchers and receipts among others.

The gravity of the allegations coupled with the amount under question, prompted the Head of Public Service Felix Koskei to call for the suspension of Engineer Oruma pending investigations into alleged procurement irregularities.