The ongoing recruitment process of Kenya Ports Authority managing director has reportedly been thrown into confusion following claims of interference by a top ministry of Transport official. The board which received over 150 applications for the vacant MD post is reportedly under pressure to favour certain individuals during the interviews. It is claimed one Andrew Mutuma of managing director DHL and formally of Urgent Cargo Ltd and KPA’s Infrastructure GM Vincent Sidai are the favourites of top ministry of Transport officials and that verbal directives have been issued to ensure one of them is picked to replace Daniel Manduku. The move has caused ripples at the board with directors complaining of being arm-twisted.
Mutuma other than being backed by powerful state operatives has the backing of politicians. While for Sidai, he openly boasts of being close to businessman Muhoho Kenyatta. Former principal secretary at the Gender ministry Mwanamaka Mabruki applied. Others are Deputy Controller of Budget Stephen Masha, Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport Corridor project chief executive officer Sylvester Kasuku, former and NHIF managing trustee-turned-politician Fred Rabongo. Ex-KPA managing director James Mulewa is praying to be back in the office. Current senior managers eyeing the slot are acting MD Salim, finance general manager Patrick Nyoike, general manager for human resource Daniel Oguttu, Amani Komora, engineer Alfred Masha, acting general manager, infrastructure development, engineer Douglas Omondi, deputy head engineer (electrical), Tom Midega, and former ex-manager engineer Joseph Atonga.
Nyoike, Masha and legal head Addry Ndena were used to fix others in DCI probe. Sammy Gachuhi, now deputy general manager of Afristar Railway Operation running standard gauge railway is on the list. Senator Gideon Moi business associate Anthony Kegode applied. Kegode mother was for years the late president Daniel Arap Moi office secretary based at State House. Kilifi county secretary Arnold Mkare, Malindi politician Philip Charo is an applicant. Sidai is currently at war with KPA contractors who accuse him of sitting on their payments. The over 160 contractors are bitter that Sidai has been selectively approving payments for certain firms while ‘sitting’ on others which have gone unpaid for over seven months with no clear guidelines.
The contractors cite a company known as Koornamme Ladies Women Group which Sidai allegedly pushed to be paid for renovation and modification of Kisumu pier office and dockyard offices. The company fronted by one Doreen was hurriedly paid while hundreds of other firms with pending smaller amounts have been ignored, it is being pointed out. Those fronting Sidai and Mutuma fear that if either was picked, the aggrieved losers could rush to labour court and stall the appointment on grounds they did not meet set conditions. Sources say it is for this reason that, an option of re-advertising the KPA MD position is being explored to water it down and accommodate the duo’s CV.
The board members most of whom recorded statements with the DCI, a few months ago over corruption allegations at the port have become vulnerable to manipulation by cartels who invoke the name of State House to have their way. The board members are fearful that they could be removed anytime following reports that the recently retired general Samson Mwathethe was headed to take over from Joseph Kibwana as board chairman. However, Mwathethe, a Giriama like Kibwana declined saying, he has a lot of respect for his elder brother who made him grow in military ranks. The board recently directed the acting MD Rashid Salim to start the process of disciplining port managers who have tipped their fingers in the cookie jar. This is after it emerged from independent investigations by the board that a section of the managers were used to fix Manduku, captain William Ruto and others as DCI pitched tent at the port.
Ironically, Salim’s own engineering division is among those which overspent billions of shillings outside the budget with claims that some port managers have become overnight millionaires through looting. Among those who have been served with “show-cause why” and cannot be sacked is head of civil engineering Alfred Masha whose department facilitated huge procurement tenders. It has emerged that KPA procurement is complicated and only a few have access to the password. It is not manual where every Dick, Tom and Harry can manipulate including the MD. The cartels in the port’s procurement department headed by Aza Dzengo have reportedly taken advantage of the fact that the authority’s procurement system is not embedded in the SAP system to commit economic crimes.
Dzengo’s name has also featured prominently alongside that of acting port MD Rashid Salim, in the controversial Kipevu Oil Terminal tender investigations in which the cost of the project was allegedly inflated from the initial Sh15 billion to a whopping Sh40 billion and awarded to a Chinese company. The MD was the chairman of the tender committee. The government at the request of the deployed experts from the Ministry of Transport to audit the project hence the show cause why letters. In a letter dated May 22, 2020, Masha is accused of circumventing set processes and the public procurement and Disposal Act, 2015 by procurement of items not in the procurement plan and budget running into billions of shillings. Among companies Masha is accused of facilitating to get tenders outside procurement plan and budget includes; Outback Investments Ltd, Yuaf Agencies Ltd, Ezgo Ltd, Gateway Innovations Ltd and Lee Construction Ltd associated with Simon Nyachae family.
Others are Absal and Son’s enterprises, Makk hard agencies Ltd, Salwa Kenya Ltd, Southshore International Ltd, Universal Business Solutions Ltd and Six Star Enterprises Ltd.The acting head of procurement Dzengo is also on the spotlight for allowing nearly Sh13 billion worth of procurement to be effected without a procurement plan and budget. A new qualified KPA procurement manager was supposed to be appointed after interviews took place several months ago but cartels happy with the status quo in the department have reportedly sabotaged the move. Dzengo started acting after the transfer of a former procurement manager to KPA’s Kampala liaison office. By pushing for the punishment of senior port managers involved in graft, the board is attempting to redeem itself from accusations of being an accomplice. Insiders say, since the managers future hangs in balance after applying for the job, they be knocked out on technical grounds or have the position re-advertised