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Yatani to pick next KPA boss from a list of three

By Benard Sanga and Willis Oketch | February 26th 2021

National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani.

Controversy has hit the ongoing recruitment of Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) managing director after senior managers who had been shortlisted claimed that they had been ordered to stand down.

On Tuesday, KPA board interviewed six candidates and submitted three names to National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani to pick one for the post.

Among the candidates were former KPA middle level managers who made it from the initial list of 150 applicants.

We established that former Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport (Lapsset) Chief Executive Officer Sylvester Kasuku’s name is among those forwarded to the CS.

Mr Kasuku headed Lapsset since its inception in March 2013 until January 5 when his term expired.

The other candidate is former Planning and Devolution Principal Secretary Mabruk Mwanamaka, who also served as the CEO of Kenya National Shipping Line (KNSL).

Ms Mwanamaka, an economist, also served as the principal officer at KPA’s finance department before she was seconded to KNSL.

Also in the final list is James Ng’ang’a, a former KPA employee who is currently infrastructure director Northern Corridor at Trade Mark East Africa.

The other candidates are Saudi Mwasinago who is in charge of Shimo Port in Kwale and Martin Motoko who served as the Corporate Manager at KPA before he moved to Kenya Power. This is Mr Mwasinago’s second attempt at the post.

Withdraw candidature

Yesterday, some senior current and former KPA managers claimed that the process was skewed in favour of a certain candidate, after they were instructed to withdraw their candidature.

Among those who were reportedly asked to stand down is KPA’s long-time Procurement and Supplies Manager Yobes Oyaro. Mr Oyaro was deployed to Kisumu port in the 2019 purge at the port.

“They told us that since we will be retiring in a few years, there was no need for us to go for the job as they were focusing on young men,” said Oyaro.

Former KPA General Manager Engineering Services Joseph Atonga, who was seen as the favourite, was also reportedly asked to drop out of the race.

Mr Atonga, who currently works as the technical advisor in the Ministry of Transport, was making his third attempt for the MD post.

“I did not attend the interview. I am working in the Ministry of Transport as technical advisor,” said Atonga who retired from KPA in 2018.

The KPA MD position fell vacant following the resignation of Daniel Manduku in March last year. Rashid Salim was appointed on interim basis.

The process to recruit the substantive office holder began in April last year, but was suspended following the outbreak of Covid-19.

Mr Rashid told The Standard yesterday that he did not attend the interview.

“Yes I did not attend the interview over what I cannot talk about,” he said.

KPA Chairman Joseph Kibwana (pictured) said he was not aware who had been selected for the position. We established that Gen (Rtd) Kibwana was summoned to Nairobi on Thursday over the list.

Through an executive order number 5 of 2020 President Uhuru collapsed port, railway and pipeline services under the Kenya Transport and Logistics Network (KTLN).

Under the aegis of the Industrial and Commercial Development Corporation (ICDC), KTLN will oversee rail, pipeline and port operations.

“KPA will need a serious and strict man or woman otherwise the changes envisioned in the executive order will not be realized,” said Julius Ogogoh the Executive officer of Commission for Justice and Human Rights (CJHR) who is the past challenged KPA recruitment process in court.

KPA Managing Director, a once coveted position has over the years become a poisoned chalice for its occupiers, as corruption allegations and other forms of impropriety have been used to hound them out of office.

Insiders claimed that influential individuals have for years pushed for their preferred choice to take over at the port, only to leave them out to hang once they are no longer useful.

The position has since 1979 been held by 14 people: Out of 13, seven were sacked, four were forced to resign and four completed their term.

Analysts said some former MDs were victims of circumstances and were sabotage by powerful forces within and outside the port including from other state agencies.

They claimed that KPA bosses find themselves in a dilemma of choosing to be professional and repaying their benefactors by awarding them lucrative tenders and even patronage jobs.

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