Then Human Resource Manager Ann Chepkorir Kurgut requested the Managing Director through a Memo of 7th December 2020 to test the ERP Fleet Management Module system to identify any loopholes before the system was operationalized by all the other members of staff, but her request was met with contempt when the MD openly opposed her idea and chose to work directly with an assistant Human Resource officer, her junior officer
By The Weekly Vision
The management of Nakuru Water & Sanitation Company has been caught flat-footed after the Employment and Relations Court ordered the firm to pay a former employee whose contract the Chief Executive Officer James Ng’ang’a and board’s chairman Ernest Kiarie terminated without following due process. Investigations reveal that the then Human Resource Manager Ann Chepkorir Kurgut was opposed to the management’s installation of ERP Fleet Management Module, the project led to a loss of Ksh. 3m. She reveals how she tried pleading with the Managing Director to reconsider the project to no avail.
The installation of the ERP Fleet Management Module allegedly led to the theft of fuel, she was then accused of sabotaging the programme and the management demanded her to refund the Ksh.3m loss and which eventually led to her sacking. After the termination of her contract, she took NEWASCO, the water company to court and in a ruling dated 4th May 2023 by Judge Hellen Wasilwa ruled that Kurgut’s dismissal was unprocedural and that she was subjected to a disciplinary action that was unfair and unjustified. Kurgut was employed by Nakuru Water and Sanitation Services Company (NEWASCO) by a letter of appointment dated 27th July 2018 to serve as a Human Resource and Administration manager for a renewable term of Five (5) years commencing 1st September 2018 at a salary of Kshs. 305,000 per month.
Kurgut revealed that she worked with dedication for the Respondent until the termination of her contract on 3rd February 2021. The circumstances leading to the termination are that sometime in September 2020, the Respondent deployed an ERP Fleet Management Module. This module was supplied by a consultant and implemented with the help of the ICT department, which was rolled out effective 1st September 2020. Initially, NEWASCO’s drivers used to request fuel manually using fuel and oil requisition forms that would then be signed by the Transport Assistant and checked by the Administration manager and finally approved by the claimant. However, at the time the system was introduced, there were not enough computers to enable drivers to make their requisition online and the transport assistant was facilitated with one computer.
Kurgut being the Human Resource Manager, requested the Managing Director through a Memo of 7th December 2020 to test the system to identify any loopholes before the system was operationalized by all the other members of staff, but her request was met with contempt when the MD openly opposed her idea and chose to work directly with an assistant Human Resource officer, her junior officer, instead of going through her. However, on 8th December 2020, she was summoned by the MD who demanded a refund of Ksh. 14 m that was allegedly lost through fraudulent purchase of fuel and lubricants. In the said memo, the MD blamed her for the gaps in the system and demanded answers about how the same will be cured. Interestingly, Kurgut was placed on compulsory leave by the letter of 11th December 2020. On 13th January 2021, she received a show cause letter titled ‘Incompetence and Negligence of Duty’ and the reasons given were an allegation that she had fraudulently approved fuel orders from September to November 2020 resulting in the loss of Ksh. 3,219,256.
Based on the allegations, she tendered her response to the show cause on the 20th of January, 2021, together with a report detailing her malicious treatment by the MD. She was invited to the disciplinary hearing scheduled for 28th January 2021 before the Respondent’s Ad hoc Committee. To show how malicious the management of NEWASCO is, she was discriminated against as all her colleagues that were also implicated in the fraud were not subjected to the same treatment.
It has been discovered that her relationship with the managing director had deteriorated so much that the Managing Director used to give her junior, Human Resource officer, her duties and directed her to report to him directly without passing through her. To further show how malicious the MD was, he ordered an Audit done himself as opposed to the Board.
The judge in her ruling noted that NEWASCO raised a counterclaim to the effect that she occasioned loss to the water company to the tune of Kshs.3,219,256/ which the judge opposed “I have already indicated that the claimant was not directly responsible for the loss of the money.
It is also interesting to note that the witnesses called by NEWASCO reported that she never directly benefited from the Ksh. 3,219,250. The judge ruled “In the circumstances of the case then, the counter claim cannot stand and is therefore dismissed with costs”. The ruling further reads “Having found as above, I find that the claimant is entitled to some remedies prayed and I award her as follows”: Given the unfairness of her dismissal, I award her compensation equivalent to 10 months’ salary 305,000/= x 10 = 3,050,000/=, 3 months’ salary in lieu of notice = 305,000 x 3 = 915,000/=, Unpaid salary up to 3rd February, 2021= 3/30 x 305,000 = 30,500/= Prorate leave earned for 20 days = 20/30 x 305,000 = 203,333/= Total award is therefore Ksh. 4,198,833.