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ABSURDITY: CS James Macharia Appoints Three Members From His Kikuyu Ethnic Group To Manage Billions In Lucrative Nairobi Metropolitan Transport Authority Board



Transport CS James Macharia.

The Transport Cabinet secretary has kicked up a storm by appointing three people from one community to a powerful authority to manage infrastructure billions.

The three are part of the 14-member secretariat that will manage the lucrative construction of roads and commuter rail, and acquisition of all enabling infrastructure including mass transit buses, trains, and communication in Nairobi and four other counties.

Financial projections from six years ago, when the Nairobi Metropolitan Transport Authority (Namata) was mooted, showed the project budget was over Sh32 billion, to be jointly funded by the World Bank and the Kenyan Government.

Widespread fury

Transport CS James Macharia’s appointment of Mary Waithiegeni Chege, Zacharia Karenge Mungai, and Ronald Ndirangu Ndegwa sparked fury over their ethnicities based on their surnames.

It could also fuel public discourse on public appointments, which independent surveys have established as biased along tribal lines and, subsequently, political inclinations.

The trio are professionals from diverse fields who will be the independent representatives on the board of the Nairobi Metropolitan Transport Authority covering Nairobi, Kajiado, Machakos, Kiambu, and Murang’a.

Other members are principal secretaries Kamau Thugge (National Treasury), Paul Maringa (Transport, and Julius Korir (Roads and Infrastructure), the county executive committee members for transport from the five counties, and two ex-offocio members.

Macharia, in his capacity as CS, will chair the Nairobi Metropolitan Area Council, which is the overall decision-making board, which will include the governors of the five counties.

He explained that the shortlisting of the candidates for the positions was done by an independent panel.

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“Selection of the three was done by the five governors. All the applicants were from only one region,” Macharia said in responding to a concerned Kenyan.

He, however, did not say how many applications were received and the identity of the independent recruitment firm that handled the shortlisting.

The job openings were allegedly advertised on the Government’s own platform, which is published and carried as inserts in various local newspapers.

Ethnic perceptions

Senior officials at the Ministry of Transport said the appointees were recruited through a ‘competitive and transparent process’ and that the ethnic perceptions in the recruitment were ‘misplaced’.

The Constitution states that appointments to public office should be reflective of the national image.

The law is, however, unclear on what should happen if only members of one ethnic community apply to fill vacant positions in the public sector, as claimed by Macharia.

City lawyer Donald Kipkorir described the appointments as a ‘blatant violation’ of the Constitution.

“Isn’t this political corruption?” Mr Kipkorir posed.

His views were shared by thousands of other users on social media platforms as the discussion on regional balance in the appointments raged on.

Construction of the transport system for the metropolis will be capital-intensive and hence lucrative for the managers considering the amount of procurement to be made.

This story first appeared on The Standard.

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