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Confusion at KMA after DG's sudden resignation

BUSINESS
By Patrick Beja | July 10th 2020

An air of uncertainty hangs over State maritime regulation agency following the sudden resignation of its head, weeks after eight officers were arrested over corruption allegations.

Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) Director-General Major (rtd) George Okong’o (pictured above) resigned on Monday but did not give reasons why in a letter he wrote to Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia.

Yesterday, the KMA board of directors confirmed that Okong’o, who was appointed in October 2018, had addressed the letter to the CS.

In the two-line letter, Okong’o stated that he was quitting to pursue his career prospects elsewhere.

It emerged yesterday that Okong’o, who was on a three-year contract, may have resigned following intense pressure from his seniors at the Ministry of Transport.

Independent sources claimed a senior ministry official had formed a habit of bypassing the DG and dealing with his juniors on official matters thereby frustrating the KMA chief.

Other sources said Okong’o may have resigned over the controversy surrounding the construction of Sh1.8 billion 15-storey KMA Complex at Mbaraki on Mombasa island.

Last month, former KMA Director-General Cosmas Cherop and procurement manager Edwin Mongare denied charges of illegally inflating construction cost of the building to Sh1.8 billion.

Other suspects

They were charged alongside members of the KMA evaluation committee Seth Arende, Bakari Mwakuyu, Juma Ali, Jemima Musinga and Francis Oluoch.

Others charged were consultants Peter Kinyanjui, Jared Bowot and Denis Ngenoh.

Cherop and Mongare were each released on a Sh20 million bond.

KMA board of directors chairman Geofrey Mwango confirmed receiving a copy of Okong’o’s letter but said they were awaiting a decision from the CS whether his resignation would be accepted or declined.

KMA Commercial Shipping manager John Omingo has been appointed acting DG.

Okong’o took over from George Mc’goye, who served in an acting capacity. Cherop had also served in an acting capacity after Mrs Nancy Karigithu’s nine-year tenure ended in December 2015. 

The ministry deployed Mc’gove to KMA after the process of hiring a substantive DG had been disrupted several times by court disputes. CS Macharia appointed Okong’o with effect from October 12, 2018, for a period of three years. 

KMA was set up in June 2004 to take charge of Kenya’s maritime affairs with Mrs Karigithu as the first substantive head.

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