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KPA officials caught in scandal to be charged

Wednesday November 20 2019

Daniel Manduku

KPA managing director Daniel Manduku. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

MOHAMED AHMED
By MOHAMED AHMED
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Embattled Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) managing director Daniel Manduku and other managers implicated in a Sh2.7 billion scandal are likely to be charged next week, the Nation has learnt.

Reports Wednesday also indicated that KPA chairman Joseph Kibwana had called for a special full board meeting on Friday with the agenda set to be communicated once members arrive.

The meeting comes amid divisions in the board over calls for the suspension of Dr Manduku and other managers mentioned in the scandal even before the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) acts against them.

SCANDAL

A source said the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) is set to summon the board members from Monday to record statements on what they know about the scandal. The members, the source added, will be investigated on negligence of official duty and conspiracy to commit fraud.

Wednesday, the Nation learnt that a team of seven from both the DCI and DPP offices has been appointed to handle the matter.

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The prosecution of Dr Manduku, operations general manager William Rutto, senior works officer Anthony Muhanji, principal civil engineer Bernard Nyobange and works officer Juma Chigulu was expected this week but was delayed due to the absence of DCI boss George Kinoti and DPP Noordin Haji who are abroad.

A reliable source intimated that Mr Haji and Mr Kinoti are to meet in Colombia before returning to the country at the weekend, and are likely to discuss the prosecution of those involved in the scandal.

“The two are expected back on Saturday and the suspects will be charged next week,” said a source.

One side of the divide in the board is keen to show that everything is “okay” and that the prosecution of the officials is unwarranted. The other is pushing for a special board meeting to address the scam and wants those adversely mentioned suspended.

A letter by a board member to Dr Manduku seen by the Nation calls for an urgent meeting to address the corruption claims and accuses the management of the mess.

The letter says Dr Manduku’s leadership had put the authority to “shame”. It accuses a top management official of acting “behind the back” of some board members in approving projects, including those mentioned in the recent scandal.

The director wants Dr Manduku suspended and an interim MD named.

“I feel that the board should suspend your activities until you have defended yourself against the allegations. In the meantime, we should appoint an interim MD,” reads the letter.

On Tuesday, a special board meeting that had been expected to discuss the scam flopped. Instead board chairman Joseph Kibwana, Dr Manduku and Mr Rutto toured the port. Gen (rtd) Kibwana was pictured with Dr Manduku and Mr Rutto during a “routine tour” of the facility with sources at KPA saying, “it was meant to show everything is okay.”

Gen (rtd) Kibwana had earlier told the Nation that the board cannot act as it was yet to receive official communication from the DCI.

The scandal involves the Sh500 million Makongeni goods shed project, manufacture of concrete barriers at Sh1.4 billion and the Sh800 million Kisumu port revitalisation project.

On the Makongeni project, investigators are questioning KPA’s decision to implement a project on a plot it doesn’t own, and flouting tender procedures. Dr Manduku is also accused of authorising the procurement of 17,940 concrete barriers, an expenditure that was neither budgeted for nor captured in the KPA procurement plan for the 2018-2019 financial year.

The MD is also caught in procurement row for the Kisumu port which detectives say he assumed the duties of a procurement officer.

The DCI has traced bank transactions of eight firms believed to have shared the Sh800 million for the project that according to investigations was supposed to cost Sh100 million.