KEBS boardroom wrangles paralyse operations

KEBS boardroom wrangles paralyse operations

The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) is engaged in a vicious boardroom squabble pitting the Trade Cabinet Secretary against the national standards council.

At the centre of the boardroom turf wars is the vehicle inspection contract that was initially a monopoly but under the KEBS council chairman Bernard Ngore’s tenure it was expanded to include more players.

In November, Trade CS Betty Maina in a Gazette Notice revoked the appointment of Ngore as chairman and replaced him with Ken Wahome Mwatu. This set off a series of court battles.

On December 3, Ngore obtained a court order overturning the decision of the CS. Stung by this decision, the Cabinet Secretary fought back.

In a letter to the KEBS Chief Executive Officer, she advised that no Board meetings take place until further guided by the ministry.

This essentially crippled critical decision making and operations by the Board.

The KEBS mess would later drag in Agriculture CS Peter Munya who previously served as the Trade CS.

Falling short of blaming Munya for instigating confusion at the Board, CS Maina in a court affidavit indicated that on July 13, 2018 the President appointed Ken Wahome Mwatu as KEBS council chairman effective July 12, 2020 to January 16, 2021.

She said that this notwithstanding, the Trade CS still issued a gazette notice dated November 15, 2019 appointing Bernard Ngore to serve for three years—this essentially revoking the President’s appointment.

In her submission, the Trade CS said an appointment done by the President cannot be superseded by a fresh appointment by a Cabinet Secretary.

According to her, in revoking the appointment of Bernard Ngore, the CS was trying to amend an illegality.

With the KEBS Board barred from meeting owing to the court battles, the standards body cannot float a tender for vehicle inspection that has been monopolised for years; and even if it does, the Board cannot sit to approve the process.