The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) board has appointed a diplomat to head the agency in an acting capacity.
The KPA board of directors on Thursday announced the appointment of Amb. John Mwangemi as the new acting MD to replace Eng. Rashid Salim who has retired. The appointment of a new KPA managing director has stalled for more than thirteen months now.
"The KPA board wishes to announce the appointment of the new MD which takes effect from July 1, 2021 as Eng. Rashid Salim proceeds on retirement. The new acting MD will hold the position until a substantive managing director is appointed," the statement by the KPA board reads.
Amb. Mwangemi is the immediate former Kenya's envoy to the Republic of Djibouti and Intergovernmental Authority on Development. He left office last month.
He previously served as Kenya's High Commissioner to Rwanda and he has also held executive leadership positions in the corporate world locally and internationally.
The position of KPA MD fell vacant in March last year after then MD Daniel Manduku resigned, after battling graft allegations for months. Mr Salim was appointed on an interim basis.
Since then, the government has conducted three interviews to get a replacement in vain. Political interference has been blamed in the first two exercises.
In May, Mr Yatani said the delay of appointing new MD was as the result of the ongoing restructuring of Kenyan ports. Three main ports in the country will be headed by each managing director to make them autonomous.
The CS said the ongoing restructuring has affected the appointment of the MD after the hiring deadline expired about a month ago. He, however, promised that the government was at final stages in making decisions on how each port in the country will have its own boss.
"We are at the final stage and soon we shall announce how each port will have independent management. The delay in naming the new KPA MD is as a result of the ongoing planned restructuring where we want Mombasa Port and Lamu to have independent management," said the CS in May.
If the new structure is adopted, Mombasa Port will have its own boss whereas the Lamu Port, which came into operation in May and Kisumu Port will have their own management teams.
Political interference has been blamed for the lack of appointment of a new KPA MD after the hiring deadline expired about a month ago.
Senior government officials have been lobbying to have their preferred candidates appointed to head the authority.
On March 2, CS Yatani rejected three names the board had forwarded to him, saying the candidates did not attain the mandatory 70 marks and above in the interviews on March 2.
According to sources privy to the hiring process, already three names have been submitted to the CS for appointment.
Senior government officials
"The names we submitted on by April 13, the last day which was set by the CS when he revoked the whole process forcing the board to do it for the third time. We understand there is push and pull from senior government officials who want their own to head KPA," said the source.
The board was expected to forward three names to the CS to appoint the MD to replace Mr Manduku.