The top management of Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) has been in panic-mode since the former Elgeyo-Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen was sworn in as the new Cabinet Secretary for Roads and Transport.
Murkomen vowed to dismantle the new controversial organizational structure at the KPA when he appeared before the National Assembly’s Committee on Appointments on Tuesday last week.
“I want assure this committee that KPA is one area that I will personally put a lot of focus to ensure the Agency functions are as it should be. Among the first things that I will do, if approved, is to dismantle a new organization structure that is bloated and adds no value other than benefiting a few individuals and to repossess grabbed berths,” Murkomen said.
The new management structure at the Mombasa Port which has created more positions of general managers and duplicated roles was implemented by KPA management against the law.
The corrupt managers who have turned the State Agency into a money machine formulated the new illegitimate structure amid concerns that it was not inclusive and leading to a bloated management.
Murkomen stated that one of his first roles as the Transport CS would be focusing on righting many wrongs at the KPA, including dismantling rings of cartels and the illegal management structure which is not making KPA efficient and vibrant.
The Public Service Commission (PSC) has also said that it was not consulted and it did not approve the new management structure, adding that any changes made without its approval are illegal and unconstitutional.
PSC also pointed that the review of the management structures of any public service entity including KPA must be approved by the it before adoption.
But KPA never made any request to the PSC to create new positions or review the organizational structure as required by the law since KPA falls under PSC’s mandate.
What remains unclear is whether Murkomen will push the illegal managers to refunds salaries they have earned since the new structures were created or not.
KPA has been on the spotlight over rampant corruption since time immemorial, from embezzlement of funds to extorting desperate members of the public looking for employment opportunities whenever there is recruitment of dockers.
In late 2021, Ethic and Anti-Corruption Commission was investigating KPA’s procurement officers who colluded with directors of six companies to execute a Sh137 million theft under the pretense of procuring bottled office water.
Investigations by the EACC revealed that the payments were fraudulent and the tendering process was done with complete disregard of the procurement laws as it forwarded the report to the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) for action.
“On 7th September 2021, a report was compiled and forwarded to the DPP with recommendations to charge officials of KPA, Mombasa fresh water supply Company, Pincho Traders, Smech Enterprises, Nyavu Traders, Aquisana Limited and all their Directors,” reads the EACC 3rd Quarterly Report Covering the Period from 1st July, 2021 to 30th September this year.
In 2016, the the Transport CS Mr. James Macharia was forced to kick out top KPA managers after they were implicated in a dossier compiled for the president by the EACC and the National Intelligence Services (NIS).
Several managers were found to be abetting crime in procurement and manipulating systems leading to massive revenue losses. Investigations also revealed other malpractices, including tax evasion and entry of contraband cargo into the country.
“Several serving staff at the KPA had failed to fully exercise their duties to stop or mitigate the possibility of KPA operations and delivery being compromised.” Macharia said.
Other than embezzlement of funds, illegal procurement for kick backs, cargo smuggling and tax evasion, KPA managers have over the time perfected the art of conning poor Kenyan looking for employment.
The new CS must act with speed to tame the vice that has seen poor Kenyans lose their hard earned cash in pursuit of employment at the State owned agency.
In early 2022, the agency was rocked by corruption claims surrounding recruitment of dockworkers including reports that some KPA managers were selling slots for as much as Sh350,000.
KPA had advertised 200 positions of docket grade HG4 in November last year and the closing dates for applications through the authority’s E-recruitment platform but the links for applications were tactfully disabled to discourage many Kenyans from submitting applications.
The process was later hijacked by cartels and corrupt managers including Mohamed Chirongo and others from the Human Resource department who minted money from poor applicants.
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