Court reinstates KPA staff sacked in Sh89m scandal

Concrete barriers at the Kenya Ports Authority. [File, Standard]

The High Court in Mombasa has ordered the reinstatement of a Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) senior employee terming his sacking in 2021 malicious, unlawful, and devoid of procedure.

Justice Agnes Nzei of the Employment and Labour Relations Court said the KPA board also lacked the legal capacity to summarily dismiss Anthony Muhanji over alleged graft related to the construction of the concrete barrier and Makongeni Goods Yard works.

Muhanji, who was the senior works officer at Port Grade HM2, was on March 19, 2021 re-deployed to a senior architect post in what was seen as a demotion.

But barely two weeks after the redeployment, KPA slapped him with a show cause letter why a disciplinary proceeding could not be instituted against him over the allegation that he was among the KPA engineers behind the overpayment to the tie of Sh89.2 million.

The said payments were for the construction of concrete barriers, and the construction of Makongeni Goods Yard was at a total cost of Sh277.3 million.

In the construction of the barriers - Ezgo Ltd was allegedly overpaid by Sh56.99 million while Grand Logistics Ltd, Salwa Kenya Ltd, and Haafa East Africa Ltd got an overpayment totalling Sh35.21 million.

But Muhanji, challenged the sacking, saying KPA’s actions of summarily dismissing him were unjustified and malicious as none of the payments he certified led to any overpayment. Muhanji told the court that he did not authorise the alleged overpayment of Sh89.2 million to the said four firms.

“Regarding payment to Grand Logistics Ltd, Muhanji only certified the first and the second payments on Makongeni Goods Yard paving amounting to Sh85.44 million which was within the contract sum,” Justice Nzei quoted Muhanji. 

"That given that interim payment certificates are prepared on a cumulative basis, the stated overpayment of Sh2.041 million could only be attributed to subsequent payments which Muhanji did not certify.”

The alleged scandal on the concrete barriers, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) undertook investigations leading to the resignation of then KPA Managing Director Daniel Manduku.

The DCI preferred charges against Manduku in Milimani Criminal Case No. MCAC/E019/2020 but the DCI absolved Muhanji of any blame.

Justice Nzei said the decision by KPA to redeploy and re-designate Muhanji from the post of senior works officer to that of senior architect was unfair, unlawful, and unjustified. Muhanji told the court that he was an engineer and not an architect, and never studied architecture. 

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