enya Ports Authority (KPA) intends to fill the post of Managing Director after a list of nominees was forwarded by the board to National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani to pick one for the post. The list left top managers who applied to fill the position.
The Standard newspaper reported that among the candidates from a list of 150 applicants is the former Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport (Lapsset) Chief Executive Officer Sylvester Kasuku, who concluded a two-year tenure in January this year.
The other candidate is former Planning and Devolution Principal Secretary Mabruk Mwanamaka, who also served as the CEO of Kenya National Shipping Line (KNSL). She once served the port at managerial level.
Also in the final list is James Ng’ang’a, a former KPA employee who is currently infrastructure director Northern Corridor at TradeMark East Africa.
The other candidates are Saudi Mwasinago who is in charge of Shimo Port in Kwale and Martin Motoko who served as the Corporate Manager at KPA before he moved to Kenya Power.
KPA’s long-time Procurement and Supplies Manager Yobes Oyaro applied for the seat. Also, former KPA General Manager Engineering Services Joseph Atonga, who has over the years been seen as the favourite, was also left out. Mr Atonga, who currently works as the technical advisor in the Ministry of Transport, was making his third attempt for the MD post.
The KPA MD position fell vacant following the resignation of Daniel Manduku in March last year. Rashid Salim was appointed on an interim basis.
KPA MD position has had a very high turnover. In just 10 years, KPA has fired four Managing Directors, with three of them hardly serving a full three-year renewable term.
A month after automation, KPA container yard faced severe congestion due to slow evacuation of the cargo. Mr. Abdallah Mwaruwa who was the managing director was put to task and sacked.
Mr Raila Odinga, then the Prime Minister, would later tell a business meeting that Mwaruwa was sacked in a move by the government to improve infrastructure to create a favourable environment for the private sector to thrive. Mr Mwaruwa was replaced by James Mulewa in 2008, who was internally picked from the little-known department of reforms, in an acting capacity.
Mr Mulewa would later be confirmed after two months in an acting capacity by the then Transport minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere, who said that he was selected from 37 applicants.
Although no clear mega corruption scandal was connected to Mulewa during his tenure, he was sacked in early 2010, having served for only a year and a half, on bribes allegations.
In an unexpected move, Mr Gichiri Ndua, who then worked as corporate affairs manager was named the acting MD. He would be confirmed after six months, in a move that did not lead to protests by local politicians or Dock Workers Union (DWU) as was expected because he was non-coastal.
His grasp of issues related to the port due to his long experience having joined the port upon graduation worked for him. Also, a desire by the stakeholders to have an experienced manager played in his favour.
Unknown to many, Mr. Ndua was then the president of the International Association of Ports and Harbours (IAPH), a global alliance of the world ports representing 342 ports and port-related organizations. Those who attended the global maritime gathering he addressed said he on many occasions received standing ovations due to his eloquence and grasp of global shipping issues.
A holder of a Master of Arts degree in economics graduating in 1983, Gichiri was to pull a surprise after serving two terms, due to his ability to steer off controversy and the hands-off approach that allowed other managers to work independently.
He was elevated when the port was undertaking major projects that included dredging of the channel to accommodate larger vessels and construction of second container terminal projects that had already been procured, a poisoned chalice for the early exit of other MDs.
The Japanese government was financing the Ksh23 billion second container terminal that was being constructed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to the tune of Ksh16 billion with the rest being contributed by the government of Kenya.
He also enjoyed support from the port stakeholders after the industry-initiated reforms that saw stakeholders sign a port community charter with clearly defined Service Level Agreements.
Gichiri’s tenure also had its downs, which he luckily survived perhaps due to diverse support. The acid test came when the government sought to convert Mombasa into a landlord port, run by private players, after the Cabinet had endorsed the plans in December 2008 and a Kenya gazette notice published on August 14, 2009. This has been a big political issue.
In 2011, a report by a consortium of advisers, led by Dutch consultants CPCS Transcom, which was hired by the government to advise on the transaction, had proposed a complete transfer of responsibility for the port to private operators.
What looked like a simple opposition by DWU evolved into a huge political standoff involving a movement that had galvanized the political elite of Coast Province on a scale never witnessed before.
The privatization was seen as being propelled by Mt Kenya government inclined officials – then the Transport Minister Amos Kimunya, his Permanent Secretary Cyrus Njiru, Gichiri and the majority of the board members were all from one ethnic community.
With no charges being preferred against him along other senior managers, he was sacked over alleged graft in February 2016, days after he announced his wealth worth to be Ksh275 million.
His sacking was announced by the late Interior Cabinet Secretary Major Gen. (Rtd.) Joseph Nkaissery together with his transport counterpart James Macharia, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) Commissioner-General John Njiraini and the Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinett.
Catherine Mturi Wairi, who served as General Manager in Finance was named the acting MD and was later confirmed the KPA boss in July 2016 at time when the government was keen to launch Kenyatta’s SGR pet project only a year away and before the 2017 elections.
The former National Construction Authority (NCA) executive director, was first appointed to the position in an acting capacity on May 30, 2018, replacing Ms Catherine Mturi-Wairi.
His initial two-month contract lapsed on July 31, 2018 but on August 1, the board of KPA extended it by four months up to November 30. Transport CS James Macharia confirmed him to the position after the extension lapsed.
He resigned in March last year after he was arrested on corruption allegations.