Kenya Ports Authority: After serving for six years at the National Construction Authority as Executive Director and Registrar of Contractors, and months later emerging top in an interview that saw 14 people shortlisted out of the 60 applicants, Dr Daniel Manduku, a religious man of all standards was the best bet to steer the ship of Kenya Ports Authority (KPA).
Oblivious of what the “System” was planning for him, he went on to wade into the murky waters that left his predecessors wounded – either fired or forced to resign. Dr Manduku who must have joined the KPA with great MDs such as Philip Okundi who had left a rich legacy in mind did not know that he will not be in the office to see his term come to an end.
A senior Journalist in one of the local media houses recently said, “One may hold a big title in the government, but still not be privy to the workings of “the system” in the very government they serve.” This is not unique to what KPA Boss Manduku was subjected to.
Going by Daniel Manduku’s resignation letter, there was more than meets the eye. In a letter he adressed to Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary James Macharia, the KPA chief said,
“I write to communicate formally a decision I have reached after deep introspection and lengthy consultation. As you know, it has been both an honour and a privilege to serve as the Head of this vital installation.
The duty of the captain of this ship has been to ensure that she remains steady and that she stays her course.
I shall be eternally grateful for the support of all the outstanding individuals who have contributed to what we have achieved over the last few years and to you in particular for your leadership and vision.
I do hereby tender my resignation, which I hope you will accept, effective June 1, 2020. I am immediately proceeding on terminal leave until then” Manduku wrote.
First, if you carefully look at the above letter, you’ll realize that it was not his decision to resign, he was forced to resign to protect the faceless humans who he was acting on their behalf.
Two, the wars he was fighting with the anti-graft agencies in cat and mouse games over alleged corruption at the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) were not his, he was fighting for unseen forces who felt that his assignment at the Kenya Ports Authority was done. Manduku was the “messiah” of “the system” at the KPA and once his duty was over, he had to be called home through “crucifixion” no wonder the endless accusations at the state agency.
Sources say, “The pressure to resign was a creation of the system.”
- “The pressure to resign was a creation of ‘The System’” a source
Anyway, a year and three months as the MD of the State corporation were just enough for his mission which was well accomplished.
Manduku’s predecessors served the same fate. In 2018 the most trusted MD Catherine Mturi-Wairi who “The System” believed was “not only qualified but also has a wealth of experience in the industry as a long-serving employee of KPA” was suspended, citing incompetent leadership that had allegedly culminated in “massive system breakdown occasioned by serious cargo backlog at the port”. Manduku would be named thereafter as acting MD before his subsequent appointment.
Before Mturi, Gichiri Ndua was sacked alongside other top officials on account of revenue losses and other dubious activities at the port.
Manduku aided “The System’s” agenda through alleged theft of containers, congestion of cargo at the port and at the Inland Container Depot in Nairobi, and the Sh40 billion Kipevu Oil Terminal project. Some of these allegations had the prominent names mentioned. It’s one of these tenders that saw Baringo Senator Gideon Moi become a guest at the DCI headquarters for interrogation.
It’s not clear whether President Uhuru Kenyatta was part of the initial equation by “The System” or he was just doing some tension to get his package. In August 2019, talking tough about the KPA bosses while warning that his administration was aware of a mega scandal at the port among other dubious undertakings and warned that those behind it “should prepare to carry their own cross.”
It became apparently clear that “The System” was fixing Manduku the same way the late Biwott did to Turkwel Dam Hydroelectric Power Project during Moi era, when China Communications Construction Company, the Chinese company that won the tender to build the Kipevu Oil Terminal had been blacklisted by the World Bank at the time KPA invited bids for the project in 2016.
China Communications Construction Company had been debarred from bidding for World Bank projects after its parent company, China Road and Bridge Corporation, was found guilty of engaging in collusive practices in World Bank-funded projects in the Philippines.
It is said KPA floated the tender on March 23, 2016, and 31 bidders from at least 15 countries showed interest. At the same time, the cost of the Kipevu Oil Terminal project increased from Sh15 billion to Sh25 billion, and then to Sh40 billion.
Others include tenders worth Sh2.9 billion at the port. Sh500 million was spent on the Makongeni goods shed project in Nairobi, the manufacture of concrete barriers at Sh1.4 billion, and the Sh800 million Kisumu port revitalization project, among others.
Sources say, “The System” further used him to fire and demote top managers. It is believed that these disgruntled managers kept on leaking documents documenting dubious tenders at the KPA to detectives and media. This explains why he was a constant visitor at anti-graft offices.
- Manduku when he recently appeared in court
It’s reported that “The System” also controlled who gets tenders at the port. These faceless individuals included wealthy businessmen, politicians, and senior government officials. Some of the tenders they controlled included the Sh1.1 billion supply of concrete slabs awarded to 11 firms and an Sh560 million tender to make 10,000 concrete barriers awarded to six companies; the Sh1.7 billion tugboat tender which was canceled following claims of underhand dealings.
The tender had attracted nine bidders including, Grandweld Shipyard UAE, Yuexin Ocean Engineering Ltd, Aruon SA, Samwon HI, Bogarici Denizalik, Med Marine and Cheoy Lee Shipyard of Hong Kong.
Since this was to be charged on the capital vote head, the KPA management split the yard into nine zones of about 2,360 square meters each — and awarded them to nine contractors above
“The splitting is a clear conspiracy to avoid tender procedures to wit section 91 of the public procurement and asset disposal act,” says the final investigation report.
In a report seen by 254News, four of the nine contractors never went to the site, but instead subcontracted one of the contractors to carry out the works.
“This clearly indicates that the works could have been awarded to one contractor and done perfectly, and therefore the splitting was unprocedural with the aim of avoiding open and competitive tendering process,” says the report.
- Disturbed Manduku
Another tender was that of a pilot boat valued at Sh600 million. The evaluation committee awarded the tender to Cheoy Lee Shipyard to build the pilot boat but this was also mired in controversy.
Sources say the scandals, which led to Manduku’s resignation, could have been initiated at a higher level;
“These tenders could not have been given without the blessings of the Ministry of Transport.
Without defending Manduku, there is another hand and that is why you have even seen the DCI and DPP fight over whether to charge him or not.
There is a powerful force behind the scandals whether they exist or are manufactured,” a source revealed. This affirms the hands of faceless humans, “The System”
For many years, the port has remained a playground for a criminal cartel that uses it to smuggle drugs, counterfeits, and other illegal goods.
The cartel – “The System”- has deep pockets and continues to hold considerable influence on the KPA management. Anyone who crosses swords with the cartel is hounded out.
Over the years, the country has lost billions of shillings through unpaid taxes as a result of container theft.
KPA is yet to account for 2,636 containers with a tax value of Sh2.6 billion which went missing in 2016. The containers were destined for Uganda.
Coast leaders have been insisting that the port leadership should be left to locals, a position that has been challenged on grounds that KPA is a national installation.
Former Mwatate MP Calist Mwatela is among leaders who believe the authority’s MD should come from the region.
“You may accuse us of being tribal but we need to speak the undiluted truth to straighten up KPA matters.
If you look at the KPA board, you see marginalization of Coast people. This must change,” said Calist Mwatela in an interview with a local newspaper.
Daniel Manduku takes home sacks of cash, pieces of land, and a residential apartment, formerly Apua, in Ongata Rongai, Umoja Road which he allegedly bought at Ksh85 million. The apartment is reportedly run by his younger brother Yusuf Maraga through a housing agency called Yellow House Properties.