Kenya Airports Authority MD Lucy Mbugua favoured: Ombudsman report

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Kenya Airports Authority managing director Ms Lucy Mbugua

The appointment of the Kenya Airports Authority chief executive was skewed in favour of the current managing director, Ms Lucy Mbugua.

According to a report released on Thursday by the Office of the Ombudsman, Ms Mbugua was deliberately favoured by Mr Joseph Irungu, a board member, who awarded her 239 marks against his second best whom he gave 105 marks.

“Further, it is noted that the four candidates were awarded extremely low marks in an attempt to deliberately favour Ms Lucy Mbugua. The variance between the best candidate and the four other candidates shows lack of objectivity in the award of marks on the part of Mr Irungu,” the commission’s chairperson, Mr Otiende Amollo, writes.

The official handler of public complaints has recommended that Mr Irungu, who also serves as administration secretary in the Department of Interior, be relieved of his duties in the board for “abuse of power and a conduct prejudicial to other interviewees.”

The report noted that if Mr Irungu’s grades for Ms Mbugua were excluded, she would be fourth among the five candidates that made it to the final round of the interview.

“Based on the foregoing, it is our finding that although the recruitment appeared to be free and fair on the face of it, a careful analysis reveals that the process violated the constitutional principle enshrined in article 232 (1) (g) on fair competition and merit as the basis of appointment in the public service,” the report says.

However, Ms Mbugua has escaped by the skin of her teeth as the Ombudsman decided not to recommend annulment of the appointment. Without evidence of her collusion with Mr Irungu, the letter says, no such action can be taken.

The Office of Administrative Justice began investigating the matter in March following a complaint filed by the Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek), which had alleged that the Transport ministry had failed to convincingly respond to concerns on Ms Mbugua’s hiring.

The consumer lobby noted that the interview was shrouded in mystery as the candidates had not been publicised. Cofek also queried Mr Irungu’s conduct.

Ms Mbugua first stepped into the post of managing director in an acting capacity last year after her predecessor, Mr Stephen Gichuki, was sent on terminal leave before the expiry of his contract.


Mr Gichuki had a tumultuous stint at KAA. He was sent home a week after a fire gutted the arrivals section of the Jomo Kenyatta Airport and in the wake of a heated row with businessman Kamlesh Pattni over duty free shops.

He had also backed a Chinese company in the award of the contract to build a Greenfield terminal against the wishes of the board.

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