How KPA wasted billions and why MPs are furious

Kenya Ports Authority boss William Ruto responds to questions by the Parliamentary Investment Committee on Commercial Affairs and Energy on February 8, 2024 in Mombasa.

Photo credit: Wachira Mwangi | Nation Media Group

The National Assembly Public Investments Committee is set to recommend the jailing of former Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) managers for illegally hiring staff and paying unjustified overtime allowances worth millions of shillings, in addition to failing to provide required documents to the Auditor-General.

The National Assembly's Public Investment Committee on Commerce and Energy had sought a meeting with KPA management on audit queries for the 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 financial years, where it emerged that the previous management had failed to provide the required documents detailing how five managers were hired and 262 people were placed in fictitious roles within the organisation's structure.

More worryingly, these non-existent positions were accompanied by substantial salary payments, accumulating to about Sh629 million.

The committee, led by David Pkosing, intends to summon the previous management that was in place during the two financial years to shed more light on how the irregularities were committed.

“We have given management two weeks to submit the records we have been asking and explain the queries. We cannot allow public funds to be misused,” said Pkosing.

The management is also on the spot for paying workers at least Sh312 million for hours not worked.

In response, the KPA management agreed with the observation but pointed out that there are occasions when port operations and security areas require exceeding the stipulated limits.

"Departments have, however, been advised to adhere to the set overtime control measures by strictly applying the 30 per cent and 20 per cent overtime ceilings for operational and administrative areas respectively," said KPA Managing Director William Ruto.

During the interrogation in Mombasa, Captain Ruto told the committee that there were board minutes that gave the previous management powers to make payments in line with the KPA Act and the collective agreement adopted by the workers' union.

“We have some documents in our possession and we shall work together with the auditor-general and parliament to agree on the mode of submitting them. We shall remain transparent to protect public funds,” said Ruto.

Due to the lack of hard copies of the documents presented at the meeting, the committee had to adjourn for two weeks to allow the parastatal more time to produce evidence and present it to the committee in Nairobi.

In the audit reports, the Auditor-General questioned how more than Sh242 million was waived when some documents were not available and management had to request more time to provide them.

"The Sh242,268,925 waiver was after examination of documents indicated that the waivers were granted on condition that the cargo would be cleared within seven (7) days. However, the cargo that had not been cleared within the seven days had accumulated storage fees. Management has not provided supporting documents or explanations on how the amount was computed," the report said.

The auditor has since confirmed that the office has received documents that were not previously submitted to support the process of granting the waivers.

The audit report also asks management to explain why two employees, who had reached the mandatory retirement age of 60, were paid more than Sh15 million as per the payroll audit for the year ended June 30, 2020.

The auditors argued that the two employees were working contrary to the Human Resource Policies and Procedures Manual for the Public Service, 2015, which states that “all officers shall retire from service on attaining the mandatory retirement age of 60 years, 65 years for persons with disabilities and/or as may be prescribed by the government from time to time.”