Kenya Railways must put merit first in recruiting new MD

Monday, October 7th, 2019 00:55 |
Kenya Railways Corporation. Photo/Courtesy

Zachary Ochieng

Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) has advertised the position of the Managing Director, currently being held in an acting capacity by Phillip Mainga. 

With the ongoing developments in the rail transport sector, the corporation has deemed it (and rightly so) appropriate to recruit a substantive holder of that office to implement the massive infrastructure projects currently underway.

It is my hope that in recruiting for this position, KRC will take cognisance of the huge task that lies ahead and approach the process with the attention and priority that the post attracts.

Needless to say, C-Suite recruiting can be a daunting task. But with sophisticated level of recruiting skills, and I believe KRC is up to the task, the right candidate for the job will be found after a fair, transparent and rigorous process.

One of the factors to be considered in this recruitment process is the ability to take the corporation to the next level through innovations and implementation of ongoing projects.

There are indications that before the end of the year, KRC will inaugurate a commuter train service from Ngong SGR Station to Nairobi SGR Terminus with a connection to the Nairobi Central Railway station within the CBD.

The move will boost the number of commuters plying the section as well as spur business opportunities. 

Secondly, the completion of the Nairobi to Naivasha SGR route will herald more economic benefits to the country and Nakuru County in particular. The trains will play a trade facilitation role, improve transport logistics increase connectivity to Uganda and the Great Lakes region. 

Then there is the over arching aspect of revenue generation. Notably, the SGR freight service income has risen from a lowly Sh400 million annually a few months ago to over Sh1.3 billion currently. The candidate of choice must not let the momentum slip. 

The Madaraka Express is presently providing services to an average of 7,000 passengers a day between Nairobi and Mombasa. Besides, the revamped Nairobi Commuter Rail (NCR) on the old Meter Gauge Railway is now ferrying some 30,000 passengers a day from the previous 14,000 during the Rift Valley Railways (RVR) regime. 

With the introduction of additional new coaches within the next two months, the figure is projected to grow from 300,000 passengers a month to three million. These gains must not be compromised.

Given the high level of expertise required for this position, there is no room and time for experimentation. The KRC board must, therefore, evaluate the applicants and give the country a solid, tried and tested individual who will take the corporation to the next level. 

I personally believe the current chief executive has done a commendable job and  fits the bill, having acted in the post for one year. He is also an insider who understands the system, having worked at the Corporation for 23 years.

More importantly, the incumbent has demonstrated unparalleled courage and wherewithal in dealing with land grabbers within the short time he has been in office. 

For this reason, he has earned the respect and admiration of his colleagues in government for his no-nonsense approach to issues, decisiveness and ability to marshal support for projects in a timely fashion. 

During my few interactions with him, I have seen a man with a vision and a purpose; a worker whose relentless efforts have seen KRC’s fortune rise tremendously. That notwithstanding, may the best candidate get the job. -The writer is a communications consultant

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