Even as the search for a substantive director-general for Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KeRRA), the body risks hiring persons who have been adversely mentioned in previous scandals in and outside the institution.
Among top candidates who have applied for the positions that were advertised in April include Jackson Karibiu Magondu and Peter Pato GichohI, whose names have been mentioned in several graft scandals in the body.
According to those in the know, the two who work for KeRRA have been blacklisted by the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the National Intelligence Service (NIS), due to their corrupt past.
For instance, Mr Gichohi is said to have been the man behind the Ksh1.3 billion Sigiri Bridge in Budalangi that collapsed in 2017, while still under construction. Mr Gichohi kept silence after receiving substantial amounts of kickbacks from the China Overseas Engineering Company (Covec), even as they did shoddy work. Covec had been contracted by KeRRA, and he was among the project managers.
The bridge was designed by Oliver Khabure, a civil engineer and proprietor of Interphase Consultants (subcontracted by COVEC). Khabure was single-sourced on the advice of Mr Gichohi. Khabure is said to be Ababu Namwamba’s cousin.
According to reports, the collapse of the bridge was caused by works undertaken outside authorised working hours without supervision. Supervision, in this case, was bestowed upon Mr Gichohi from KeRRA.
The project price is said to have been doubled to accommodate the kickbacks, from Ksh685 million to Ksh1.3 billion.
Termed as the king of underhand deals at KeRRA, Gichohi is said to have used a good amount from the kickbacks to construct apartments along Kiambu Road. He is among the richest engineers at KeRRA.
Sources from the company indicate that on the other hand, Mr Magondu is known for arm twisting the procurement department to award contracts to firms associated with his cronies. In most case, he has a stake in the companies, and if he does not have he is expecting ‘fat’ kickbacks.
He is also another wealthy engineer in the institution, with several questionable properties across the country.
The two are seeking to replace Mr Luke Kipchumba Kimeli, who has been the acting director-general at KeRRA for the last two years.
Mr Kimeli’s appointment in 2018 followed the nomination of the then director-general John Ogango for the position of ambassador by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Applications for the positions were closed on May, and now it remains a matter of wait and see.
Kerra coordinates the development, rehabilitation, maintenance and management of rural roads, and was recently allocated Ksh6.5 billion for its works.