An exposé led by an ODM senator not only ripped to pieces claims that have previously been made by Pamoja African Alliance party led by Kilifi governor Amason Kingi, but also revealed disproportionate advantages enjoyed by Luhya and Luo communities in one of the country’s major state corporations.
Thirty-five percent of employees at the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) are from one ethnic community in breach of a legal requirement for diversity in the sharing of jobs in public service institutions and State-owned firms.
A report tabled in Parliament shows that the Mijikenda has 2,274 out of 6,470 workers at the State agency.
The dominance of the Mijikenda is in breach of the National Cohesion and Integration Act, 2008, which bars a single community from occupying more than a third of employment positions in State-owned firms.
The Senate committee on Cohesion led by ODM Senator Naomi Shiyonga, which probed allocation of jobs at the port, has directed the KPA to offer preference to other communities when vacancies arise.
The report highlights struggles by the Public Service Commission to ensure that offices funded by taxpayers have a face of Kenya with all communities given an opportunity to serve.
“KPA should embark on affirmative action measures to ensure once positions become available they are filled in line with the Constitution and other relevant laws in as so far as ethnic diversity and inclusivity is concerned,” the Senate committee says in its review of KPA staffing.
The Luo community comes second with 733 employees followed by the Luhyia with 502. Another coastal community, Taita, has the fourth biggest number of staff at KPA with 496.
The Mijikenda account for a 5.29 percent share of the population based on the 2019 census, further highlighting their community’s over-representation at the KPA.
Revelations on the skewed staffing contradict the popular rhetoric by politicians from the Coast who have for years argued that the locals are shortchanged in employment at the agency, which runs the Mombasa port.
The Indian Ocean port is a vital artery for East African trade, handling fuel and other imports for landlocked neighbours such as Uganda and South Sudan.
The region’s main exports tea and coffee are also shipped out of Mombasa.
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