By Philemon Wesonga
One cannot ignore the apparent open sabotage driven by former Kibaki strongman and minister Â Amos Kimunya when he acted in various ministerial dockets in the 10 year rule of Mwai Kibaki. It will be argued, in future, that Amos Kimunya literally ensured Â most of the mega infrastructure projects that were to be developed in Kibaki’s government did not see the light of day. Kimunya, and his cronies, which included Kibaki himself, seemed to have benefited tremendously.
These acts of economic sabotage have now become matters of focus following the ground-breaking of the flagship JKI Airportâ€™s Greenfield project which was officiated by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, and also attended by Leader of Opposition CORD and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga. Incidentally, along with many other projects, Raila Odinga was the the person who initiated the airport expansion project during his term as PM (2008-2013).
In his tenure as Transport Minister Amos Kimunya fought tooth and nail to block the aviation flagship project (Sh55.5 billion Greenfield Terminal). This has no resulted into a delay of more than one and half years, with Kimunya and Kibaki totally oblivious to the fact that regionally, JKIA risked losing hub status as South Africa, Rwanda and Ethiopia all were putting in place plans to modernise their airports, to attract trade, tourism and investments.
In cancelling the contract for the project, Kimunya ignored advise from multiple government authorities; like the Cabinet Committee on infrastructure, the AG, and the Office of the Prime Minister. Kimunyaâ€™s actions even drew the ire of the then Acting Head of Civil Service and Secretary to cabinet who rebuked the KAA Board that reported to Kimunya.
â€œIn my opinion, it is in bad taste and disrespectful to the Cabinet to attempt to compel the managing director to undertake such action (cancellation of the contract) behind the Cabinet Committee and the Cabinet itself,â€ said Kimemia.
Kimunya had unilaterally ordered the KAA board to cancel the tender in controversial circumstances and restart the tendering process afresh.
The Public Procurement and Oversight Authority later weighed in and declared Kimunyaâ€™s actions regarding the airport tender illegal. The PPOA also reinstated the Chinese firm that was originally awarded the tender. All factors prevailing, the JKIA Greenfield Terminal should be complete by 2017, and not 2015 as earlier envisaged by the grand coalition government. Â (Daily Nation)
The other apparent effects of Kimunyaâ€™s shenanigans on the airport project were that firstly, the delay of the start of direct flights from Kenya to USA (tourism and horticulture suffers), and secondly quite alarmingly; the stark risks of Kenya being blacklisted by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for compromising aviation security via the KAA board orders (let alone giving airside passes to international criminals like the Artur brothers).
President Kibaki was seemingly blind to all these, despite various confidential memos sent from Office of the Prime Minister to Office of the President to highlight these reckless risks.
One wonders then why President Kibaki retained and reappointed Amos Kimunya to several substantive cabinet dockets despite Kimunya earning a vote of no confidence in parliament (no less) and being implicated in a myriad of mega-scams that impacted not just on Vision 2030 timetable, but also had profound effect on the Kenyan economy as well.
Parliament actually went further and declared Kimunya (and current CBK governor Njuguna Ndungu) unfit to hold any public office, but Kibaki would hear none of it, and in fact Kimunya was at one time being touted as a possible successor to Kibaki far higher rated than Uhuru Kenyatta, Kiraitu Murungi or Martha Karau.
We see that the JKIA Greenfield project was just but one of those that caught Kimunyaâ€™s eye. There is overwhelming evidence of Kimunyaâ€™s mega corruption footprints which can be seen on other state projects most of which were initiated by PM Raila Odinga who had also served as Roads Minister and initiated key trunk road projects we see in use and others being constructed today.
One: As Minister of Lands during Kibakiâ€™s first term, Kimunya earmarked prime lands around future flagship infrastructure projects during the Kibaki administration â€“ such as the JKIA Airport expansion, Thika super-highway, Railway transit lines, and Lamu Port. You need not be a NASA scientist to figure out why these lands was being acquired and hoarded, do you?
Two: As Minister of Finance, Kimunya used fellow mafia networks (like CBK Governor) to fleece the public through transactions such as Safaricom privatization, De la Rue currency printing contract, and the outright grab-and-give-away of the Grand Regency Hotel to Gadaffi-linked Libyans – which also earned Kamlesh Pattni a fake blanket amnesty for Goldenberg crimes. On the De la Rue currency printing contract, well captured in Parliament’s PAC Report detailed Amos Kimunya’s role in the scandal where taxpayers lost more than Sh 1.8 billion seemingly to pave way for Kimunya’s legendary kick-backs.
In this mafia operation, as very typical of Kimunya’s other looting scams, an innocent Kenyan (former acting CBK Governor Mrs. Jacinta Mwatela – a Taita) had to be ruthlessly hounded out of office and replaced by a pliant mafia insider – Njuguna Ndung’u.
Three: As Minister of Transport, Kimunya packed the respective corporate boards of Kenya Airports Authority (KAA), Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), and Kenya Maritime Authority (linked to pirates and drug traffickers) with his fellow Mt. Kenya mafia â€“ topping with other mafia appointments as respective CEOs. In KPA alone, 11 out of 16 board of directors were from the Mt. Kenya during Kimunyaâ€™s disastrous tenure as transport minister.(All Africa)
Four: Kimunya and his mafia then went to work around Embakasi, Syokimau, Thika, Lamu and other earmarked hotbeds. At Syokimau, their eyes were fixated in China; where Airport expansion contracts were awaiting.
Torrents of tears were shed from the board’s ‘hard-work’; whether at upcoming sub-urban homes in Syokimau, Mitumba slums or what was considered ancestral land by peasants around Lamu. How could Kimunya bulldoze his way into all of these projects unless he had confidence and protection from the very highest office in the land? But this theft was not limited to Kimunya only.
Five: the above is notwithstanding the fact that during Kibakiâ€™s first tenure (2003-2007), the same mafia hijacked Anyang Nyongo’s economic paper that proposed bringing the lucrative and previously untaxed Matatu industry into the KRA tax bracket through the Transport Licencing Board. (Nyongo has been one of Raila Odinga’s economic think tanks, apart from serving as ODM Secretary General and cabinet minister) .
Soon after parliament passed the Michuki rules, the late George Thuo and the late John Michuki teamed up after the only scheduled public transport company in the city then known as Stagecoach was hurriedly hounded out of business, with Citti Hoppa promptly inheriting its routes in the CBD.
That was after state house insider Stanley Murage, who had a substantial stake at the Kenya Bus Service and was instrumental in the incorporation of City Hoppa into the CBD, also acquired a stake in City Hoppa.
Michuki made a good sum from unhindered importation of safety belts and speed govenors from 14-seaters in 2003 – something that Kimunya wanted to ban out of CBD last year, to create another windfall for his bossom friend Thuo who was comprehensively defeated in the previous elections. Unknown to many, City Hoppa Bus company has a shareholder in the name of Windsor Holdings who have Francis Michuki serving as a director.
Francis is John Michuki’s son. His co-director was the late George Thuo the person largely responsible for the lack of a scheduled and reliable public transport service for the entire Nairobi metropolis, the biggest city in this part of the world.
It was indeed their time to eat! When will it be Kenya’s time to eat?
Dr. Job Oduor contributed to this article.