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Court halts search for new maritime boss

High Court Judge Eric Ogolla November 14, 2017. Photo | Laban Walloga | NMG
High Court Judge Eric Ogolla November 14, 2017. Photo | Laban Walloga | NMG 

The Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) has been temporarily stopped from conducting interviews of shortlisted candidates for the post of director general, making it the fourth time the State body has unsuccessfully attempted to fill the top job.

Justice Eric Ogolla issued the orders following an application by the Commission for Human Rights and Justice which had sought leave to commence judicial review proceedings against the government agency.

“The leave is granted to operate as a stay of the intended interview of the shortlisted persons for the post of the Director General of the respondent (KMA) pending hearing and determination of this suit,” said Justice Ogolla Tuesday.

The judge admitted the case which was filed under certificate of urgency to be heard during vacation.

The last time interviews were supposed to be conducted was January 12, 2016 when the exercise was also cancelled following a court order.

Last year, KMA shortlisted nine candidates for the controversial position which has remained vacant for nearly three years since the exit of Shipping and Maritime Affaires Principal Secretary Nancy Karigithu.

The board advertised for the position on October 17 for the fourth time with submissions of applications ending on November 8 before meeting November 17 to undertake the shortlisting exercise.

Acting director general Cosmas Cherop, the Authority’s head of commercial shipping John Omingo and Former Kenya Ferry Service (KFS) managing director Musa Hassan Musa were among those shortlisted for the position that attracted 23 applicants.

The board of directors also shortlisted Eunice Wacheki Wahuni, Major (rtd) Nishit Dhanavantrai Maru and Container Freight Association of Kenya executive officer Daniel Nzeki. Others were Evelyn Umazi Mwamure, maritime consultant Stanley Ndenge Chai and Julius Nyong’a Segera.

Former Garsen MP Danson Mungatana was among individuals with political background who applied but was locked out of the shortlist.

Legalities

However, in its suit, the NGO claims that a decision to shortlist applicants for the position was done without the required legal procedure.

It also argues that the board established to carry out the interviews was not properly constituted as its chairman had resigned.

“So far no other person has been appointed to replace the chairman of the board and no legal procedure has been put in place to replace him,” the application by the NGO states in part.

According to the commission, the time given between the date of advertisement for the position on October 17 and the date of shortlisting for interview on December 12 last year was too short to enable public participation regarding the applicants.

“None of the advertisement was ever made on the official website of the organization,” the NGO’s application further states.

The commission further argues that the advertisement was done by the chairman finance and human resource committee instead of the Board chairman or the corporation legal officer.

In his supporting affidavit, Commission for Human Rights and Justice executive director Julius Ogogoh said the KMA board has shortlisted and is in the process of recruiting people, an action which is not in line with the Constitution.

“I need to bring this application on behalf of the public in order to stay the proceedings of recruitment of the Director General, KMA, without following legal procedures provided for,” said Mr Ogogoh.

The court directed that the envisaged judicial review proceedings by the commission be filed in court within the next 14 days.

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