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Court bars road's KeRRA from removing procurement manager

By Paul Ogemba | February 27th 2021

A judge has stopped the Kenya Rural Roads Authority from redeploying its procurement manager for raising questions over multi-billion shillings roads constructions tenders.

Employment and Labour Relations Court Judge Maureen Onyango ordered KeRRA not to transfer Margaret Wanja Muthui from her position pending the determination of the suit in which she is challenging the decision to deploy her to the Ministry of Transport and Public Works.

“The letter from KeRRA informing the petitioner to hand over her position is hereby suspended pending determination of the suit. She is reinstated to her position pending the inter-parties hearing on March 15,” ruled Onyango.

The roads authority had on February 10 discharged Ms Muthui from the position of procurement manager and deputy director of supply chain management and directed her to report to the Ministry of Transport and Public Works Permanent Secretary for redeployment.

The authority had also instructed her to immediately hand over her roles to Catherine Kangangi who was appointed to the position in an acting capacity.

But Ms Muthui challenged the decision arguing that she was being unfairly punished for raising questions regarding some tendering processes that had been irregularly awarded to some companies.

According to Muthui, it was not the first time the authority was attempting to kick her out for raising concerns over inflated tenders for road constructions.

“There were two previous attempts in 2017 to remove me from the position on account of questions I raised over discrepancies in awarding overpriced tenders. The court had stopped my redeployment but the authority is again doing the same thing,” said Muthui.

She said that her deployment to the ministry was a witch-hunt for standing in the way of roads construction cartels who have been winning tenders to construct rural roads at inflated costs.

Muthui swore that when she was appointed KeRRA’s procurement manager, she had a legitimate expectation to be allowed to work as per the terms of service and not deployed to another department in an arbitrary manner.

“The sole reason for my removal is my steadfast support for the rule of law in awarding tenders. The pace at which I was being removed smacks of pure malice since they did not even give me time to prepare for a formal handover,” said Muthui.

She is seeking a court declaration that her deployment to the Ministry of Transport and Public Works was in breach of her constitutional rights and contrary to fair labour practices.

Justice Onyango gave KeRRA seven days to respond to the suit and scheduled the hearing on March 18.

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