Anxiety kicks in as KPA workers brace for vetting

Some are said to have presented fake certificates to earn promotions.

Dock Workers Union chairman Mohamed Sheria addresses a past press conference. He has welcomed the forthcoming vetting of port workers. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

IN SUMMARY

  • The EACC said it would from this financial year scrutinise operations at the port to reduce corruption.
  • KPA Board chairman Joseph Kibwana said the management is committed to fighting corruption.

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Anxiety has gripped the Kenya Ports Authority following a directive from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission to have the more than 5,000 employees vetted.

Importers have been complaining of losing close to Sh70 million daily on storage and detention charges due to cargo pile up at the Inland Container Depot, Nairobi.

The EACC was prompted into the audit after it emerged that some workers at the port have forged documents or lack the necessary credentials.

Some are said to have presented fake certificates to earn promotions.

In the past, political interference was blamed for recruitment and poor services at the port.

CORRUPTION

Dock Workers Union chairman Mohamed Sheria welcomed the decision but urged the government to conduct it in a humane way.

“We do not dispute the directive. If any worker is found to have presented forged certificates, let him or her be demoted. They should not be dismissed,” Mr Sheria told the Sunday Nation by phone.

“Many of us used the national identity cards and not academic papers to get jobs.”

EACC vice-chairperson Sophia Lepuchirit said KPA employees would be vetted to ensure their suitability and end corruption at the parastatal.

KPA will also work with EACC in an integrity testing programme for employees deployed in corruption prone sections.

“Carry out thorough due diligence and vetting of individuals to ensure their suitability in all aspects and confirm the authenticity of papers before recruiting them,” Ms Lepuchirit said in her recommendations last week.

The EACC said it would from this financial year scrutinise operations at the port to reduce corruption.

CODE OF CONDUCT

It also announced that it is analysing intelligence on reports so as to launch more investigations.

Ms Lepuchirit said KPA officials helping companies and businesspeople evade taxes, embezzling public funds, demanding kickbacks and not complying with the law in relation to procurement, financial management and recruitment would be arrested and prosecuted.

The parastatal has formed a department of ethics and integrity, a corruption-prevention committee, developed a code of conduct for workers, conducted corruption risk assessment, appointed integrity assurance officers and developed an anti-corruption policy.

KPA Board chairman Joseph Kibwana said the management is committed to fighting corruption.

In 2015, KPA constituted a committee to discipline workers who presented forged certificates for promotion after an audit showed there were 136 such employees.

FINANCIAL LOSSES

Meanwhile, Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association chairman William Ojonyo said the situation at ICD is terrible and called for intervention from the government.

“There are about 9,000 containers at the container depot and our losses have doubled. One company alone has a detention loss of Sh150 million. Another one has lost Sh1.8 million,” Mr Ojonyo said yesterday.

“That means importers are losing an average of Sh70 million in Nairobi daily.”

Mr Ojonyo said importers would call a meeting to draft a report on their predicament to be presented to President Uhuru Kenyatta.

“We have attempted to negotiate with government officials but services are not improving,” he said.

However, KPA managing director Daniel Manduku said the port is experiencing a surge in cargo due to the huge number of big ships docking.

STORAGE TARIFFS

KPA has leased a short prefer storage facility to be owned and managed by its establishment in Nairobi in a bid to reduce the cargo pile up at ICD, he added.

“That is where we are going to store the long stay containers under customs warehousing and containers with goods marked for destruction,” Dr Manduku said.

He added that doing so would clear half of the yard. He said the containers at the yard are under the Kenya Revenue Authority.

Dr Manduku said KPA does eight trains to Nairobi daily, translating to 800 Twenty Equivalent Units.

The KPA boss added that importers would continue to pay the gazetted storage tariffs in the new leased storage facilities in the capital city.

“They will pay the ordinary $20 for a 20ft container and $30 for a 40ft container,” Dr Manduku said.

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