Norwegian Johnny Andersen, the new managing director of KAA (the Kenya Airports Authority) appointment was sanctioned by a top politician in Jubilee after intense lobbying by political wheeler dealers with vested interests and huge investments in the aviation industry.
It is imperative to note that the Kenyatta family has interests in the aviation industry. Reports say Andersen is married to a Kikuyu lady from Kiambu. During the Kibaki regime, Uhuru Kenyatta’s uncle George Muhoho, was KAA MD and was also an influential member of Kibaki kitchen cabinet. Muhoho is Mama Ngina’s sister. Muhoho is one of the key advisers of Uhuru. Andersen’s appointment by Transport secretary James Macharia has raised eyebrows. Macharia upon landing at the ministry terminated the expansion of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport Greenfield Terminal project which was to transform the airport into a world class aviation hub at a cost of Sh56 billion.
While the MD, Muhoho introduced a firm, Airport Projects and Engineering consultants headed by one Matu to KAA. Even after his departure, most of the jobs are undertaken by the firm Apec. The firm with Muhoho has landed to re-design of Moi International Airport Mombasa, the second runway at JKIA and remodeling the existing old terminals. Sources say, the total amount Apec is to be paid by KAA is a cool Sh2 billion.
Serious Backing for KAA
Apec has a silent partner former suspended Transport cabinet secretary Michael Kamau. He gave the firm major contracts when he was chief engineer roads and at Transport and Infrastructure as CS. Apec is supervising the multi-billion dollar Standard Gauge Railway. It is said the new MD defeated five other candidates, including then acting managing director Yatich Kangugo, who emerged second. Kangugo was being pushed by a cartel said not to be in good books with State House. Fear was, if he landed the plum position, Kangugo was to play in their hands. Reports reveal, Kangugo was opposed to Macharia’s move to stop the terminal project on grounds that it will have serious implications with the financiers based in China.
Andersen who scored 88pc application had serious backing compared to others. The interviewing panel placed Kangugo second with 63 points. Before being named as the acting MD, Kangugo was airport manager of the Moi International Airport.
KAA chairman Julius Karangi who replaced David Kimaiyo appointed Andersen.
The KAA board interviewed six candidates and submitted the names of three candidates to the CS.
The KAA operated with no CEO for more than a year. Lucy Mbugua was in charge but was sacked on corruption charges.
In November last year, KAA advertised the managing director’s position and those of senior managers who were acting.
Macharia upon arrival at the ministry cancelled the process and appointed consultancy firm PriceWaterhouse Coopers to recruit afresh. It is said Andersen was not among the 120 applicants in the November group. Was the second advert tailored to accommodate him, industry players are now asking?
Kimaiyo has openly stated that big players were canvassing to put their sidekicks in the plum position. He says he was sacked as the airport agency boss because of his stand against corruption as the new MD. Andersen is the man who will oversee the airport’s expansion. Construction of new terminals 1A and 1E to deal with arrivals and departures to meet international aviation security standards is ongoing. These were some of the conditions issued by the US Federal Aviation Administration to make JKIA elevated to category 1 status, which will allow for direct flights between Kenya and the US.
Already, the Public Procurement Oversight Authority has been petitioned over alleged interference in a multi-million tender for the development and management of a restaurant at JKIA terminal 1E.
Caught in the saga is a senior manager at JKIA Richard Ngovi and Kenya Airport Authority employee Anthony Kulei. “We have learnt that there are serious irregularities, corruption, and collusion with some prospective bidder, underhand dealings and total lack of transparency… We understand from reliable source that an officer from marketing department who prepared the tender document, Anthony Kulei has been compromised,” the letter says.
The controversial tender KAA/305/2015-2016 was advertised on April 25 2016.
“The advertisement says ‘bidders operating in JKIA are not eligible,’ a clear indication that this tender is not transparent and it’s not open tender despite being advertised,” the petition letter reads in part. Initially, the restaurant had been allocated to NAS Airport Services as part of relocation from arrivals that was razed down in a mysterious inferno in 2013 but was later revoked. KAA has been dogged by controversies surrounding lucrative tenders marred by intense infighting between the KAA board and management.
In March this year, Macharia and a section of KAA top management were involved in intense internal disagreements preceding unanticipated termination of multi-billion Green Field Terminal project. Anhui Construction Engineering Group was awarded the lucrative deal.
At one time, three confidential files went missing four days after the corporation’s top four managers were shown the doors on the controversial multi-billion tender deals. Those sacrificed then were Mbugua, general managers John Thumbi (finance), Obadiah Orora (procurement) and company secretary Katherine Kisila.
National assembly through the committee on transport, public works and housing investigated the multi-billion tenders involving construction and running of an airport restaurant by Suzan Limited. Controversial contract signed between KAA and Dufry International on the management of the new duty free shops at the new terminal at JKIA with Kamlesh Pattni on duty free shops in Kenyan airports through World Duty Free Shops have since emerged.
Pattni’s World Duty Free Shops fought Dufry International for the control and management of duty free shops at JKIA. In 2013, Kamau then CS, brokered a deal between KAA and Pattni to have the latter drop his claims against KAA and in return, a sister firm, Suzan Duty Free be awarded four duty free shops and a bonded warehouse. Sources within KAA say they will soon reveal the main motive behind the change of guard which touches on fresh tendering for the Greenfield Terminal project.