New KPA boss Captain William Ruto pledges to protect workers' rights

Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) Managing Director Captain William Ruto. [File, Standard]

The new Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) Managing Director Captain William Ruto on Friday vowed to protect the workers' rights and steer the Authority to achieve its goals.

In his first interview, Ruto claimed his demotion and transfer from KPA to Kisumu was politically instigated.

He said he was a marked man during the former regime because of his surname, and called on Kenyans to charge him on his performance and not name or tribe.

The renowned marine who rose through the ranks at the port, where he was employed in 2001 as a deck officer, to the general manager post, beat 75 applicants who had applied for the job.

Ruto said he will protect the rights of the over 7,000-odd workers by creating a conducive working environment for them to deliver their respective mandate.

On the recruitment exercise, he said the exercise was highly competitive, adding that he emerged top because of his experience. He has experience spanning 32 years in the industry.

"I've spent all my life in the (maritime) industry. It hurt me when I was victimised and demoted just because of my surname," said Ruto yesterday in a phone interview.

A trained marine by profession, Mr Ruto joined KPA in 2001 as a senior marine pilot where he rose through the ranks of the General Manager of Port Operations and Harbour Master.

Ruto acted as the de facto deputy, owing to his experience in port operations during Daniel Manduku's stint at KPA. Ruto was transferred to Kisumu Port after Manduku resigned in 2020.

He comes to the office when KPA is going through major reforms and development like the revival of the Kenya National Shipping Line (KNSL) and the Government Clearing Agency (GCA).

The State through KPA is also spearheading the construction of the Sh30 billion Shimoni Modern Fishing Port in Kwale, Lamu Port, and the expansion of the Kisumu port.

On Friday, Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen described Ruto as a seasoned mariner with experience spanning 32 years. The recruitment started on December 26.

Murkomen assured Ruto the government support adding that his years of experience will be instrumental in ensuring the authority delivers on its mandate.

Last year, after the second botched recruitment, Manduku who is the current Nyaribari Masaba MP told the Standard in an interview Ruto was the most qualified to head KPA.

"If you ask me, Ruto ticks all the boxes. He understands the port's operation having been there during the implementation of most if not all new systems at the port," said Manduku.

Mr Ruto from Mr John Mwangemi who was appointed to KPA on June 25, 2021, in an acting capacity to take over from Eng. Rashid Salim replaced Manduku.

KPA which was started in 1978 after the collapse of the East African Railways and harbours one of the three richest corporations with net assets valued at Sh187.6 billion by June 2020.

Other State corporations with more net assets than KPA include the National Social Security Fund, the University of Nairobi, and KenGen.

This explains the high-stakes lobbying for the KPA MD post. Coast leaders like Nyali MP Mohamed Ali have been pushing natives of the Coast to be appointed to the post.