Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) Chairman Eng. Wangai Ndirangu speaking at the Serena Hotel, Nairobi on Tuesday, December 21, 2021. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG
The chair of Kenya National Highways Authority (Kenha) Wangai Ndirangu risks ouster in after revelations that his appointment breached the law.
President Uhuru Kenyatta tapped Dr Ndirangu, a lecturer at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), from directors appointed by Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia.
Lawyers say the appointment breached sections of the law that bar picking of public officers as chair of Kenha.
Dr Ndirangu is considered a public officer by virtue of his employment at JKUAT, which is a State-owned agency.
Mr Macharia has been asked to recommend the dropping of Dr Ndirangu as chair of the Kenha, which handles mega projects such as Nairobi Expressway ahead of next week or risk legal action.
The law demands that the chairman be tapped from a list of six directors appointed by the Transport Cabinet Secretary from people nominated by particular organisations and must not be public officers.
The six organisations include a tertiary learning institution, the institution of Engineers of Kenya, Law Society of Kenya, Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya, Institute of Surveyors of Kenya and the Kenya Association of Manufacturers.
“A non-executive chairman shall be appointed by the President from amongst…six other persons, not being public officers, appointed by the ministers,” says the Kenya Roads Act.
The Ethics Act defines a public officer as permanent or part-time employee in counties, national government, Parliament and institutions such as public universities.
This means that Dr Ndirangu appointment as chair of Kenha is in breach of the law given his role as a civil engineering lecture at JKUAT.
“This is the epitome of impunity and display of utter disregard of the law for the persons that the law expressly bars from sitting in the board of Kenha to be appointed as chairman of the same board and illegally serves at taxpayers’ expense,” said Adera & Kenyatta Advocates in a letter to Mr Macharia on behalf of their client, George Balla.
“Kindly take notice that our firm and irrevocable instructions is to demand the immediate revocation of the appointment…within the next seven days, failure to which our instructions are to move to the High Court for revoking the said appointment,” said the letter dated March 24.
Corporate governance experts say that this mode of operation could dim the public interests in decision-making at the state agency.
They reckon that the choice of a non-public officer or independent director to serve as chair is aimed at reducing the influence of the State in the firm’s decision-making organs.
[email protected]