By Philemon Wesonga
Folks, Lucy Mbugua has been appointed Kenya Airports Authority Managing Director. Whether on merit or not, it is instructive to note she becomes the 4th Managing Director of a strategic parastal originating from the Mount Kenya region. This is in a period of 12 years.
Thats right folks, one decade and two years, a Kenyan from other regions has not been lucky enough to head this parastatal.
As transport ministers, Amos Kimunya, John Michuki and now seemingly Engineer Michael Kamau (all from Mount Kenya region) made sure they had ultimate control on the Board of Directors of Kenya Airports Authority through the Chairman and MDs positions.
KAA is not your normal parastatal. It is one of the few that collect revenue directly outside the ambit of the Kenya Revenue Authority.
During the 2009/10 Budget Speech, Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta buried a small amendment which was set to create a secretive fund running some billions of shillings per annum to be controlled solely by the KAA Board. The Finance Minister quietly amended the Kenya Airports Authority Act and Air Passenger Service Charge Act, to subject all Air travelers to a new US$ 20 (Sh 1,700) extra charge for International travel, and Sh. 100 for local travel.
With JKIA handling an estimated 5 million passengers a year, this means the KAA MD collects Ksh8.5 billion each year in a kitty singularly controlled by none other than the Transport CS… Habari ndo hiyo.
During Kimunya and Michuki’s tenure at transport ministry, the Kenya Airports Authority reputedly had 46% of the senior management originating from Central Province. 70% of these were taken into employment after 2004, when Michuki was the transport minister!
With the new constitution specifically providing for public positions to reflect the ethnic diversity of Kenya, the Jubilee Government has Engineer Michael Kamau as transport cabinet secretary and the senior management team having 6 out of 12 coming from Mount Kenya region, in a country of 42 ethnic groups!
Never mind two ethnic groups control a significant percentage of positions in Cabinet and key ministries like finance, defence, transport and so on.
What are the chances of a man from Turkana heading the KAA, or the transport ministry? Lucy Mbugua has every right to be appointed KAA MD, but in all intents and purposes, the president ought to critically examine the role, the history and the need to have someone from somewhere else to head this parastal, since after all they still report to Eng Kamau who reports to him! All in the spirit of the constitution and Kenyaness.
But the tragedy of ethnicisation of Kenya’s gateway agency does not end with nepotism alone. Today, JKIA, Kenya’s largest airport, faces incessant security breaches for exactly the same reasons. Sourcing for security services to deploy at JKIA and most airports in Kenya is exclusively controlled by these ethnically correct characters. A look at the private security firms manning most major installation will shock you not because of the faces but the manifest incompetence.
The other tragedy is the police officers often seconded to destinations where ethnic correctness is a qualification. KAA, you will recall, became the safe aboard of former police commissioner Mathew Iteere even as he escaped police vetting after the Bargoi massacre.
KAA is a national time bomb.