KENYA Airports Authority Managing Director Lucy Mbugua and three other senior managers have been sent on compulsory leave, pending investigations into a controversial Duty Free shops tender.
Apart from Mbugua, the KAA Board, under the chairmanship of David Kimaiyo, also sent on compulsory leave the general manager Finance, John Thumbi, the corporation’s Secretary, Catherine Kisila, and Procurement manager Obadia Orora.
“Itâ€™s all about the Duty Free shops”, said a Board member familiar with yesterday’s proceedings.
It is understood that Transport and Infrastructure PS Nduva Muli, who attended the meeting, is the one who demanded that the four be sent home, to facilitate a probe into the award of a Duty Free shops tender to an international company.
In September 2013, businessman Kamlesh Pattni announced that he had given up the shops at JKIA and a settlement was reached between him and KAA.
KAA then issued a tender for international firms to bid to run the refurbished Duty Free shops.
It was awarded to The Nuance Group and local partner Sahara International Holdings.
But the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board upheld appeals from several bidders, including Pattni’s Suzan Company, that the tender criteria were either unclear or not adhered to.
A second tender was then issued and Dufry, which manages more than 1,000 duty free shops around the world, won it. Suzan challenged again, but all its challenges were dismissed by both the Review Board and the High Court.
Soon after the High Court made its decision, KAA lawyer Ken Ogeto, working with KAA legal officials, drew up a contract overnight, which was signed by KAA and Dufry the following day.
“It is this contract that had the mistakes that have sent Mbugua home. However, when these mistakes were noticed, KAA asked Dufry to return the contract for review. They agreed and a new correct contract was issued and signed between KAA and Dufry. When Muli came to the Board meeting today, he asked that Mbugua and the other three managers be sent home to facilitate an investigation into this faulty contract,” said another Board member.
Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau appointed Mbugua the KAA boss in January last year, after the Board, led by Prof Mutuma Mugambi, recommended her.
Mbugua had been acting managing Director at KAA since August 15, 2013, after Stephen Gichuki was fired. ??
Having taken over after the fire at JKIA that destroyed a section of the International Arrivals terminal in August 2013, Mbugua has been in the forefront in the recovery and restoration efforts at the aviation hub.