The board of the Kenya Water Towers Agency is entangled in a fierce war with the management stemming from the suspension of CEO Julius Tanui, a directive that has been overruled by the Environment PS, Festus N’geno.

The board, under the leadership of Chairman Rashid Echesa, took the decision to suspend Prof Tanui a fortnight ago, citing allegations of financial mismanagement related to various projects.

Prof Tanui is facing accusations of misappropriating Ksh120 million designated for the development of the Kaptagat Bamboo site, a project nearing completion with minimal tangible progress estimated at 30 percent.

Kenya Water Towers CEO Prof Tanui. Image: courtesy.
Kenya Water Towers Agency CEO Prof Tanui. All Images: courtesy.

Insiders familiar with the matter disclosed that PS N’geno intervened by overruling the board’s suspension decision and urged the feuding parties to seek a resolution internally during a meeting held at the agency’s NHIF building headquarters on Monday.

This decision to suspend Prof Tanui was reached during a full board meeting on September 12, following unsuccessful suspension attempts by the board’s finance committee previously. The committee had held two special sittings and one regular in their pursuit of the CEO’s suspension.

Additionally, he is alleged to have failed to account for the substantial sums disbursed as allowances to Kenya Forest Service personnel responsible for safeguarding the Mau Forest Complex and Enoosupukia Forest, under a joint enforcement unit.

It has been revealed that the CEO and the finance manager, who has also been suspended but resisted the move, failed to provide a comprehensive report on the disbursement of these allowances.

Concerns have also arisen regarding the possibility of ghost workers benefiting from these allowances, as the human resource department’s oversight in the payment process has been bypassed, with the responsibility handled separately by the conservation department which should not be the case.

Notably, the agency has been disbursing Ksh54 million annually in allowances to the joint enforcement unit since 2015, with previous instances of forest rangers voicing grievances over unpaid allowances.

The board has vehemently resisted any attempts to reinstate the CEO, and they have formally petitioned Environment Cabinet Secretary Soipan Tuya to take action against the agency’s top executive.

“The board has submitted a request to the Cabinet Secretary, urging her to order the CEO’s suspension following a disagreement with the Permanent Secretary over this issue,” revealed an anonymous source familiar with the situation due to its sensitive nature.

This development comes just days after the head of Public Service Felix Koskei ordered the suspension of Athi Water CEO Michael Thuita and his Rift Valley Water counter part over graft allegations.

Prof Tanui has been at the helm of the Water Towers Agency since 2018, initially in an acting capacity before his confirmation just three days before the 2022 General Election.

The Kenya Water Towers Agency is a State Corporation entrusted with coordinating and overseeing the protection, rehabilitation, conservation, and sustainable management of water towers across the country.