The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) is set to formally launch investigations into how fraudulent contractors supplied 67,251 faulty gas cylinders in a government plan that was intended to provide poor homes with cheaper cooking fuel.

Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti on Friday said he will lead a team of detectives to establish how the Petroleum ministry and the National Oil Corporation of Kenya (Nock) allowed the supply of the sub-standard cooking gas cylinders.

“We will initiate a probe. We cannot allow a programme that is funded by taxpayers to put Kenyan citizens at risk,” said Mr Kinoti.

A report on the multibillion-shilling project has revealed that more than a third of the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders supplied to Nock were defective, including having faulty valves that posed the danger of fire eruptions.

Mr Kinoti announced the start of the probe as the Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek) asked the State to recall all the cylinders distributed under the programme, already in the market pending “an independent testing of the cylinders.”

Cofek secretary-general Stephen Mutoro asked the DCI and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to move with speed to apprehend those found culpable.

Extreme discretion

The lobby also called on consumers already using the cylinders “to exercise extreme discretion” if they must use the cylinders.

“If 67,000 cylinders out of the 185,000 were rejected for being defective, the writing is on the wall as regards the competency and capacity to be awarded in the first place. Kenya Bureau of Standards equally failed the consumers by not verifying the standards of the cylinders before being supplied to NOCK,” said Mr Mutoro.

“(We demand) that the entire project be immediately frozen pending investigations preferably by the DCI and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission on the integrity of the process of award of the tender, competency of the awardees and safety of the cylinders.”

Nock chief executive Mary Jane Mwangi on Thursday dismissed safety fears around the cylinders piloted in Kajiado North Sub-County and Machakos County even as Petroleum principal secretary Andrew Kamau remained mum on the matter.

Under the Sh3 billion plan, dubbed the Mwananchi Gas Project, the households were to receive 6kg cooking gas cylinders and burners at a discounted price of Sh2,000.