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KPA MD: Six shortlisted for top job at Mombasa port

By Benard Sanga and Willis Oketch | April 7th 2021
Nairobi Internal Container Depot. Mombasa port is set to get a new boss next week. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

Six candidates have been shortlisted for the post of Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) managing director.

The parastatal’s board has announced that the candidates were selected from a list of 70 applicants seeking to occupy the seat that has been vacant since March last year following the resignation of Daniel Manduku, who is facing corruption charges.

KPA board, chaired by General (Rtd) Joseph Kibwana, is expected to physically interview the shortlisted candidates. It has 45 days to complete the hiring of a new managing director.

“The exercise is still ongoing to finalise with the last six for the physical interview,” said Kibwana yesterday in a brief text massage.

On March 2, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani rejected the three names the board had forwarded to him, saying the candidates did not attain the mandatory 70 marks and above in the interviews.

Yatani ordered the board to start the recruitment afresh and finalise it in 45 days. The deadline lapses next Tuesday.

Yesterday, a source at the port told The Standard that only 70 candidates submitted their papers before the March 19 application deadline. In the botched exercise, over 150 candidates had applied for the post out of which only five were selected through face-to-face interviews.

Kibwana yesterday declined to reveal the names of the six shortlisted candidates, saying the information was not available for the public. But a source at the port said among those who applied is a top infrastructure expert who until recently was in charge of a State agency tasked with implementing intra-Africa infrastructure.

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Others are current and former port managers and two retired senior officers from the security agencies. Two candidates whose names were rejected by Yatani said they had no comment.

“I’m sorry that information is not available for release as it is still (work) in progress,” said Kibwana.

The post fell vacant last year when Manduku resigned. Rashid Salim is currently the acting managing director. In the last process, he did not apply for the post.

When Yatani rejected the names of three candidates during the first attempt to hire a new MD, Commission for Human Rights and Justice (CHRJ) said Kenyans would continue to question fairness and transparency in the process if the exercise continued to be shrouded in secrecy.

“The process must encompass transparency and fairness,” said CHRJ Executive Director Julius Ogogoh, adding that interviews should be done in public and the public allowed to submit their views or petitions about the candidates.

He added: “The port plays a key role in the life of Kenyans and other countries in East Africa. It is important that they are given a chance to participate in the recruitment of the MD.” 

In 2018, Manduku scored 89 per cent; the second candidate garnered 67 per cent while the third, a former manager at the port, had 65 per cent. The fourth candidate, a CEO of a private company, scored 60 per cent and the fifth, a maritime consultant, had 48 per cent.

“Yes, I scored 89 per cent and it is actually law that the candidate must get 70 per cent and above for him or her to be considered to be appointed the MD,” Manduku told The Standard.

He said because of the complexity of port management - with political, economic and operational interests - the port requires a fearless person to steer it to a world-class facility.

In the past, KPA board has opted to use international firms like Deloitte in the recruitment process but by yesterday, it was not clear whether any such firms were involved in shortlisting the candidates.

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