KAA gets new chief this week after three failed attempts

Transport secretary James Macharia. PHOTO | FILE
Transport secretary James Macharia. PHOTO | FILE 

Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) will have a new chief executive this week after directors of the State agency finally interviewed candidates in an executive search that has been halted three times.

Transport Cabinet secretary James Macharia said he would name the substantive CEO before Wednesday after the airports agency board presented three names to the minister to make his choice of the new chief.

The KAA has been without a substantive head for more than a year now following the sacking of former managing director Lucy Mbugua on allegation of corruptions. Efforts to replace her have hit snag on three occasions.

“I received the three names on Saturday and will make an appointment by Wednesday,” said Mr Macharia. “This is a delicate process and we cannot share the names now to avoid interference.”

In the earlier bungled process, the KAA had on November 20 last year advertised the managing director’s vacancy, receiving more than 120 applicants.

Mr Macharia, however, cancelled the recruitment and appointed consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct the exercise afresh amid intrigues by parties with vested interests in the job.

The consultancy presented six candidates who were interviewed by the board.

The search for the managing director has been bungled several times on grounds of corruption with former KAA chairperson David Kimaiyo saying that there had been canvassing by State officials and some of the directors who were keen to fill the position with their cronies.

“The process of appointing a new head at the airport has been marred by a lot of interference from the senior government officials and the directors at the board,” said Mr Kimaiyo.

“There have been intense lobbying by people who want to ensure that they put in place their right hand man in order to cut lucrative deals at the airport,” said the former police boss.

President Uhuru Kenyatta last month replaced Mr Kimaiyo with former Kenya Defence Force head Julius Karangi.

About 13 other senior managers are currently serving in an acting capacity. Mr Macharia has said the recruitment of these officials would be done once the position of managing director has been filled.

Mystery also surrounds the launching of the new arrival terminals that has been cancelled three times.

The commissioning that was to be done by President Kenyatta was first cancelled in April. Two other cancellations were made last month.

The new terminals 1A and 1E separate the arriving passengers from the ones departing, which is a key security requirement under international aviation standards, meeting one of the conditions issued by the US Federal Aviation Administration before Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi is elevated to a category 1 status that will allow for direct flights between Kenya and US.