Top bosses at the Kenya Ports Authority and Kenya Revenue Authority in Mombasa have been sent packing in a bid to clean the port of corruption.
Senior port police officers were reshuffled in the far-reaching purge announced Tuesday by Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery, his Transport counterpart, Mr James Macharia, KRA Commissioner-General John Njiraini and Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet.
Among the eight officials sent home was the port’s managing director Gichiri Ndua. He was ordered to proceed on terminal leave pending the expiry of his contract in July.
Other ports officials dismissed were general manager for operations Twalib Khamisi, general manager for board and legal services Muthoni Gatere, general manager for corporate services Justis Nyarandi and head of security Mohamed Morowa.
Revenue authority commissioner of investigations Jonah Cheruiyot was redeployed as the head of human resource while Ms Rachel Monyoncho will take an early retirement.
The authority has also transferred more than 50 staff and top managers from the container freight stations.
Coast DCI Regional Commander Henry Ondieki has been transferred to Nairobi while Mombasa Port OCPD Zacheaous Ngeno was dismissed.
Maj-Gen (rtd) Nkaissery, Mr Macharia, Mr Njiraini and Mr Boinnet announced the drastic measures after a meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta earlier in the morning at State House, Nairobi.
WAR ON CORRUPTION
During his coast tour last month, President Kenyatta vowed that he would fight corruption at the port and enhance its efficiency.
Tuesday, Mr Nkaisseiry told a press conference outside Harambee House that the days of those facilitating tax evasion and smuggling of contraband goods through the port were over.
“We are on top of things… We will dismantle all of them,” he said.
Mr Macharia said that the port’s board had established that staff had failed to fully carry out their duties “to stop or mitigate the possibility of port work and delivery being compromised”.
He said there was need for a re-organisation in the way transit goods are handled, saying this will stop the proliferation of contraband cargo through the port.
“All cargo will from now on will be cleared at the Mombasa port and not at container terminals,” he said.
Mr Njiraini said all key revenue authority staff in customs at all points of entry will be vetted within the next three months and results of the vetting made public.
“We will be prosecuting several members of our staff who have perpetrated graft at the Mombasa Port. We will work with all key agencies to curb insecurity and malpractices at the port,” said Mr Njiraini.
He said the revenue authority would boost its anti-tax evasion measures and said loss and diversion of cargo cost hundreds of billions of shillings in tax revenue.
“We are now dealing with the contraband goods that attract high duty,” he said.
Mr Peter Mambembe, the chairman of the Association of Importers of Kenya, immediately welcomed the reshuffle and urged the Transport Ministry to recruit qualified managers saying inefficiencies were brought about by political appointees.
“We welcome the move to dismiss the managers. We think this is in the right direction. The ministry should appoint managers and professionals from the shipping industry with skills.”
Ultimate Maritime Consultants director Stanley Chai said inefficiencies at the port were due to mismanagement. He said politics had taken centre stage in staff recruitment and that there were “mistakes” that should not have been allowed to pass.
“Over the years, we have recommended that Container Freight Stations should be phased out but nothing has been done. The facilities continue to charge exorbitant fees on cargo, making the port too expensive for users,” he said.
Mr Chai asked why the port could not invest in container depots instead of sending cargo to privately-owned centres linked to corruption and dealing in illegal goods. Freight stations were created in 2008 to reduce congestion that was harming the port after shipping lines threatened to impose heavy surcharges. Yesterday’s reshuffle came after an inter-agency committee was formed by President Kenyatta to look into inefficiencies at the Port.