Anti-corruption sleuths have launched investigations into claims that some senior Kenya Ports Authority employees in the marine department were doctoring documents on services rendered on ships to divert millions of shillings into individual pockets.
At the centre of the storm is Captain William Ruto, one of the powerful managers at the port.
The most recent case that has reportedly attracted the attention of EACC detectives involves MV Serval, which arrived at the port of Mombasa on December 26 2018. It developed mechanical problems and a number of employees were mobilised to rescue it.
Two tugboats, MV Eugene and MV Nyangumi and pilots were retained for several days in the rescue operation. However, an official later wrote a letter directing that the charges/payment be shared between the port and an outside entity.
“The port sent tugboats and pilots who worked for a long duration of time in the rescue operation, making it impossible to understand how the captain could write a letter, directing the charges to be shared equally,” says a whistleblower’s letter to EACC
It is suspected the port officials colluded with the vessel’s agent to alter records contained in VTS log sheet at marine tower and pilot’s log sheet in order to charge less outside Kenya Ports Authority tariff regulations.
It is claimed the difference in payment which amounted to millions of shillings meant to be KPA’s revenue was shared among four captains and the ship’s agent.
Sources at KPA pointed out that it is a criminal offence for any employee regardless of his/her position to muddle with records on services rendered or even write a letter to any port user on how charges are to be raised.
It is only the managing director in consultation with the board of directors who have the mandate as contained in the harbour’s regulations and the authority’s tariffs.
The sources claimed a bank account of one of the marine captains was found to contain millions of shillings by investigators.
His other two colleagues own several high rise buildings and plots in Mombasa, Nairobi and other major towns in unexplained accumulation of wealth.