CS Murkomen appoints William K. Ruto as KPA boss

Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen

Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen responds to questions before the National Assembly Committee on Transport and Infrastructure at Continental House, Nairobi, on December 7, 2022. 

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • CS Murkomen said Captain Ruto was selected following a "rigorous and intensive recruitment process" and his attainment of "the highest aggregate score from the interview process". He will serve for three years, starting March 10.

The search for a Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) managing director finally ended on Friday, three years after the office fell vacant following David Manduku’s resignation.

Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen has appointed Captain William Kipkemboi Ruto, the manager in charge of Kisumu port, to the position, just a day after interviews were concluded.

CS Murkomen noted that 75 people applied for the position in recruitment by the KPA board, which started on December 23, 2022, in a bid to find Mr Manduku’s replacement following his resignation in March 2020.

Capt. Ruto, Dr Sudi Mwasinago (General Manager Operations) and Mr Vincent Sidai (General Manager Lamu Port) were the only KPA insiders who were interviewed for the position.

Other notable persons were Rachel Balu Musyoki and Dr Patrick Maingi Muinde. Mr Nicodemus Odera Odongo, who served as the acting National Hospital Insurance Fund chief executive officer, was also angling for the job.

CS Murkomen said Captain Ruto was selected following a "rigorous and intensive recruitment process" and his attainment of "the highest aggregate score from the interview process". He will serve for three years, starting March 10.

In a statement, CS Murkomen termed the new KPA boss a "seasoned mariner", who started off at the KPA in 1991, as a cadet marine deck officer, before rising through the ranks to be a general manager of operations and later a harbour master.

He served at sea as a deck officer on board a variety of vessel types, including tankers, and container and general cargo vessels, before finally taking command of a general cargo ship.

Capt. Ruto studied at South Tyneside College in the UK, attaining a Higher National Diploma in Nautical Science.

He holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Strategic Management from the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (Jkuat) and is an associate fellow of the Nautical Institute (AF-NI) and a member of the International Harbour Master’s Association (UK).

He attained the highest qualification as a Ship Captain (Class 1 Master Mariner) from South Tyneside Marine College, UK.

CS Murkomen said: "It is my belief that his wealth of experience, spanning 32 years, will be instrumental in ensuring the authority delivers on its mandate to the people of Kenya and continues to contribute towards the growth of the Kenyan economy."

Controversial post

Last month, Mr Murkomen said he would name a new managing director after the position was advertised four times since 2021.

"The transition will be smooth when the announcement is made on the change of guard," he said.

With the appointment of the new MD, John Mwangemi will leave the acting chief executive position as he is set to retire next month.

Mr Mwangemi took over from engineer Rashid Salim who retired after acting as managing director for about two years.

The new MD is expected to manage Mombasa, Lamu, and Kisumu wet ports as well as the Naivasha and Nairobi inland container depots.

Since Dr Manduku’s resgnation in March 2020, efforts to hire a new KPA boss stalled, marred by intrigues, including claims of biases, intimidation, political influence, boardroom wrangles and fraud.

In the past 10 years, the KPA top office has seen its occupants exit in quick succession, with at least four bosses being sacked after being in officers for barely two years. Sixteen people have held the position since the establishment of the post in 1976.

MDs who managed to complete their terms without being sacked or resigning include John Mturi, father of Catherine Mturi-Wairi, who came before Dr Manduku; Philip Okundi, Brown Ondego and John Gituma.

Seven other bosses were sacked while four were forced to resign on allegations ranging from corruption, incompetency, embezzling funds and sabotage, to witch-hunt.

Before Dr Manduku took over, two of his immediate predecessors - Catherine Mturi-Wairi and Gichiri Ndua - suffered almost similar controversial exits, succumbing to pressure from both political and government officials to resign.

In July 2016, the KPA board appointed Ms Mturi-Wairi the first woman to lead the parastatal at a time when the government was eager to launch the standard gauge railway (SGR).

Prior to her appointment, Ms Mturi-Wairi had worked at the Port of Mombasa for many years, rising to the rank of the General Manager, Finance.

However, in June 2018, after two years in office, she was sacked over incompetency, which was said to have led to congestion at the Port of Mombasa and the  Inland Container Depot in Nairobi.

She was accused of sabotaging the SGR freight services that had started in January 2018 and which President Uhuru Kenyatta was keen on.

She was unceremoniously kicked out of office at night and Dr Manduku appointed.

Before Ms Muturi, Mr Gichiri Ndua, who was the corporate affairs manager, was named the acting MD and confirmed six months later.

With no charges being preferred against him along with other senior managers, Mr Gichiri was sacked over alleged graft in February 2016. Days before his sacking, he had announced his worth as Sh275 million.

Early in 2010, then MD James Mulewa was sacked after serving for a year and a half, the accusation being that he had received bribes.

Mr Mulewa was investigated by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and charged. He was to pay Sh74.6 million to the State after being found guilty of acquiring unexplained assets. His accounts were by 2011 frozen with more than Sh25million in them.

His predecessor Abdalla Mwaruwa had been sent home at a roundtable meeting with the private sector in Mombasa in 2008.

Mr Mwaruwa had been accused of failing to end the congestion crisis at the port, with importers threatening to look for alternatives.

He implemented the Kilindini Water Front System said to have caused congestion.

Mr Mwaruwa took over from Mr Brown Ondego, who served for six years, until 2005, after taking over from Joseph Munyiri, who resigned less than a year after his appointment in 1999.


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