A vicious succession war is brewing at the Kenya National Highway Authority (KeNHA) where Director General Eng Peter Mundinia is approximately five months away from retirement after serving two terms capped by the Kenya Roads Act 2007.
Five engineers in charge of various directorates in the agencies have expressed their interest in succeeding Mudundia in the roads agency which is currently running multi-billion shilling roads projects across the country as part of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s legacy, that has seen him rush against time to implement ambitious infrastructure projects.
This even emerged that power brokers and politicians from both President and Deputy President William Ruto’s wing who think they will form the next government has in some instances, crossed ranks as they push respective preferred successor, with sources indicating that political, tribal, and smear campaigns by the parties involved are card on the table.
Those eying the position are Eng. David Muchilwa who has been serving as director for development and who previously served as KeNHA’s General Manager Special Projects, director roads asset and corridor management Eng. Kungu Ndungu, director, highway planning and design Eng. Samuel Omer, Eng. James Gatitu who is director of policy, strategy, and compliance as well as Eng. Mutii Kivoto has been the general manager of maintenance.
Kungu, according to sources is enjoying the backing of both the president’s and Ruto’s supporters, Muchilwa has the support of some confidants of Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) boss Raila Odinga and hose of his Amani National Congress (ANC) counterpart Musalia Mudavadi while Kivoto has Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka’s backers looting for his appointment as the next DG.
“The engineers are aware that Mundinia is about to retire and have started positioning themselves. Politicians and power brokers, just like it has been the norm in successions in lucrative government positions, are keen to control the process. Already, politicians from Kieleweke and Tanga Tanga brigades with the backing of some state officials are rooting for Kungu, we also have another team, that includes some state officials pushing for the appointment of Eng Muchilwa. The three others have different forces pushing for them, although it’s not very much pronounced like the other two,” a highly placed source at the roads agency revealed.
The source added; “Of course with political divisions in the ruling party and also having the Opposition leaders on board, which has also seen some of the top officials in government offices take sides, and with the deep interests that comes with the lucrativeness of the positions due to the huge budget run by the agency as well as tendering, some government officials, politicians, and power brokers, as well as directors of roads construction firms, will be pulling to their side and the game may soon turn bruising and bare-knuckled.”
Mundinia was appointed the Director-General of the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) in 2015, taking over from Linus Tonui, who was proceeding on retirement upon attaining the statutory retirement age.
Before his appointment, Eng. Mundinia, holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Nairobi (UON) and a Post Graduate Degree in Business Management from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), was the Acting Director of the Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) since November 2014.
He is serving his second term in office, given that the first term was to end in 2018.
The current law allows that a Director-General shall serve for a maximum of two three-year terms, meaning Mundinia’s helm at the highly budgeted roads agency is legally coming to an end.
However, a controversial Kenya Roads (Amendment) Bill, 2021 that seeks to extend terms of Directors General (DGs) of the authorities from current three to five years was recently tabled in parliament, a move that sparked outrage among lawmakers who have viewed it as mischief in the plot to an automatic extension of their terms of bosses of three roads authorities.
The Bill sponsored by the National Assembly Transport committee chairman David Pkosing (Pokot South) wants to amend Sections 13 and 14 of the Kenya Roads Act of 2007, in terms of office of the DG and qualifications.
“The Director-General shall hold office for a term of three years and shall be eligible for appointment for one more term,” reads the current Act in part.
Successions at the Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KeRRA) where Eng Philemon Kandie has been serving as an acting director-general have also taken a nasty trajectory with interested candidates launching horrible onslaughts against each other, including financing campaigns to accuse each other of graft as they seek to advance their chances.