Intense lobbying forces MPs to drop bill on roads
Anthony Mwangi and Alvin Mwangi
Intense lobbying by civil engineers forced the National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi to stand down the controversial Kenya Roads (Amendment) Bill 2021, which is seeking to have non-engineers hold the position of director general in roads authorities.
The bill, sponsored by the National Assembly Transport committee chair David Pkosing (Pokot South), wants to amend Sections 13 and 14 of the Kenya Roads Act of 2007, on the term of office of the DG and qualifications.
Last Thursday, Pkosing asked the Speaker to stand down the bill, which was in its third reading to allow stakeholders to further deliberate on contentious issues in the bill.
“I stood down the bill for the stakeholders to come up with a compromised ground.
The contentious area is whether the holder of the DG’s office must have other competencies to qualify,” Pkosing told People Daily yesterday.
The proposed Amendment in the Bill seeks to have a person with a post-graduate degree either in accounts, finance, and management from a recognised university can be allowed to lead the different road agencies.
In its report, the parliamentary committee argues that it is high time the DG’s position is opened to other professions to mange the agency with the technical work being left to the juniors.
The Institute of Engineers of Kenya (IEK) had protested the requirement terming it retrogressive as it will allow non engineers to run the office which is more of technical than other areas.
“My amendment in the bill is to allow holders of the office of the DG to be holder of other competencies other than civil engineer,” Pkosing said.
He added; “I expect the stakeholders to deliberate and come up with a compromised position during the one month will be on recess.”
The proposed amendments further seek to extend the term of the bosses of three roads authorities, namely the Kenya National Highway Authorities (Kenha), Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) and the Kenya Rural Roads Authority (Kerra).
The controversial bill seeks to extend terms of the DGs of the authorities from current three to five years.
“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.
While Kenha DG Peter Mundinia has since retired, his two colleagues in Kura and Kerra, Cyrus Kinoti and Philemon Kandie are likely beneficiaries should the legislation pass.
The current law allows that a Director-General shall serve for a maximum of two three-year terms. Kinoti, who was appointed last year, will serve as KURA boss until 2025 if the new Bill becomes law.
The proposal also seeks to add other qualifications to be met by a person nominated as DG. Among the new qualifications is a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a master’s degree.
The DG is in charge daily running of the said authorities, charged with managing funds and staff.
“The Director-General shall be responsible for… the implementation of the policies and programmes of the Authority and reporting thereon to the Board,” the Act reads.
The engineers through their association argued that there is no way someone from “nowhere” can head such technical institutions without holding the necessary skills.
“There is no way you will tell a doctor to come and supervise engineering work. This is a technical field that requires someone skilled with matters to do with engineering.
From the onset, we suspect that the proposers of this bill are on a mission to plan their relatives to head these institutions because of the narrative which exists that this field has a lot of money,” an engineer who spoke to People Daily on condition of anonymity said.
The engineer said it is only a civil engineer or a structural engineer who has the best skills to head such agencies.
“It is crystal clear that civil engineers are well conversant with these matters.
They are the people who understand what is required, the time the road will take to be complete among other matters. There is no way a lawyer will understand this,” he said.