The Manduku puzzle: Who is baying for his blood?

The Manduku puzzle: Who is baying for his blood?

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Kenya Ports Authority managing director Daniel Manduku is under siege from powerful forces determined to see him edged out of the position. He was appointed to the post on May 31 2018.

Last week, Manduku was arraigned in court to face charges of unlawfully awarding tenders for the construction of cargo storage facilities at the Nairobi inland container depot. However, the MD, did not take a plea after it emerged no charge sheet had been presented by the prosecution.

His arrest and arraignment came after more than 15 months of investigations over a number of corruption allegations spiced up with legal drama that had prevented the Directorate of Criminal Investigations from arresting him.

The MD has an anticipatory bail of Sh500,000 issued by Justice Eric Ogolla at the High Court in Mombasa which prevents the DCI from ambushing him with an arrest on the ongoing investigations of Sh2.7 billion corruption case.

However, the plot to kick out Manduku began in August last year after the parastatal cancelled seven tenders worth over Sh 21 billion after some staff reportedly tried to influence their outcome.

The tenders included Sh7 billion headquarters construction, a Sh3 billion terminal operating system, Sh3 billion purchase of land at the Nairobi inland container depot and Sh2 billion for dredging.

Other cancelled deals were a Sh2 billion port equipment tender, supply of a tugboat at Sh1.7 billion and a Sh800 million pilot boat.

Insiders point out that tender cartels that had enjoyed business monopoly at the port p for decades were allegedly irked following Manduku’s bold action that disrupted their businesses. For decades, the cartels had single-handedly controlled the entire chain at the port.

In the month of November last year, there emerged claims that some officers from the DCI were allegedly pushing for the interests of influential businessmen by attempting to influence the outcome of corruption investigations through leaking of confidential documents to the media.

“It is a fight that has seen some well-connected individuals leak some forged documents and purported charge sheet. One wonders how a charge sheet can be prepared yet investigations are still on,” a KPA board member had lamented.

Last week immediately after Manduku’s arrest, a number of port managers were told by some influential businessmen to prepare their CVs to be assisted to fill up the position. After the MD was set free, some were overheard cursing the DPP for ruining their party.

Had Manduku been charged, Patrick Nyoike, the KPA’s GM finance was to be appointed acting MD. He is well connected within the ministry of Transport and was reinstated to his position a few months ago after a suspension over corruption investigations by the EACC involving a firm known as Nyali capitol.

But some KPA board members preferred Vincent Sidai, the GM infrastructure to be given the job even as those opposed to him claim he is new at the port and cannot be entrusted with the task of being the overall man.

Before landing a job at KPA last year, Sidai had contested for the Busia governor seat. He is unpopular among managers of Coast origin at the port who claim he took the GM post that was meant to go to Alfred Masha who is a coastal.