Port bosses on the spot over deals

KPA chairman Joseph Kibwana and MD Daniel Manduku. [Standard]

The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) board has told managers to take full responsibility for all procurement decisions in the face of ongoing corruption investigations.

The board has also distanced itself from any graft cases at the ports in Mombasa, Kisumu and Lamu, saying it plays no role in the procurement transactions at the heart of multiple investigations by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI).

The board acknowledged that a dossier by an anti-graft investigator at the port has caused immense concern, but said it would only act on recommendations made after investigations.

On multiple reports about alleged graft at the port, board chairman General (rtd) Joseph Kibwana yesterday said the buck stops with the managing director on procurement deals.

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“It is the MD who has the final authority over any contract being awarded at the port. The board has no authority over the procurement laws in the port,” Gen Kibwana said, adding that the board would enforce its mandate without fear or favour.

New guidelines

Stung by recent graft claims rocking the State corporation, KPA MD Dan Manduku has moved to stamp his authority with new guidelines on procurement, including a warning that “all projects should be supported by a feasibility study with very clear recommendations” and a “cost-benefit analysis to support the proposed projects.”

In a confidential letter to general managers and heads of department in Kisumu, Nairobi, Kampala and Lamu dated September 2, Mr Manduku said the new guidelines are motivated by ”the President of Kenya’s pronouncement on 25th August 2019” on illegalities at Kenya’s ports.

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In Manduku’s stern letter, he warned that “each individual will be held personally liable for acts or omissions that fall short of required standards” and acknowledged that there is justifiable concern about resource utilisation at the port.

A dossier to the DCI alleges massive fraud at KPA in the purchase and commissioning of a simulator, purchase of fresh water, bribery of investigators and alleged corruption on the controversial Kipevu Oil Terminal project deal.  

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EACC is investigating the alleged inflation of the Sh40 billion Kipevu Oil Terminal project, which was awarded to a blacklisted Chinese firm in October 2018 after a delay going back to 2016. The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has already received a file on the agency’s findings.

Confidential report

The DCI has deployed more than 50 detectives from Nairobi to investigate various projects, including the award of Sh1.1 billion works to 11 Kenyan firms to supply concrete slabs.

According to multiple sources, the DCI is also probing the Sh560 million tender to make 10,000 concrete barriers that KPA awarded to six local firms.

Meanwhile, in a confidential report to the DCI and which was also copied to President Uhuru Kenyatta on June 7, this year, Patterson Joseph Okhako, an employee of the parastatal, alleged that recent transfers and demotion of key employees from Mombasa to Kisumu and Lamu were orchestrated to remove staff with damning information on graft.

The letter alleges that three managers have systematically crippled the department of ethics and integrity created by the board in 2007, and the internal audit section at KPA through “demotion, transfer and show-cause letters”.

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The letter adds that “there is a planned execution of transfers targeting KPA integrity management staff, mostly from Mombasa and Nairobi, due to the perception that they are collaborating with DCI and EACC on matters anti-corruption in KPA.”

Kibwana denied receiving Mr Okhako’s letter, saying he would have acted on it “if it was copied to me”.

Okhako had been transfered to Kisumu but has since returned to Mombasa and redeployed to the now revamped Kenya Maritime Authority.

Before his transfer to Kisumu, Okhako had been the head of the ethics and integrity department at KPA in Mombasa for 14 years.

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corruptionDaniel Manduku