KAA’s Gichuki gets the sack


(Posted `17th August 2013)

In a long overdue move was the CEO of the Kenya Airport Authority, Stephen Gichuki, finally sacked, following the disastrous fire two weeks ago at Kenya’s main international airport, Jomo Kenyatta International.

While in any such circumstances CEO’s would very likely offer their resignation, a civilized way of acknowledging failure of such epic proportions, Gichuki tried to hang on to a job which saw him preside over demolition squads both outside as well as inside the airport – the recent illegal demolition of the duty free shops is just one case in point – his presiding over the destruction of parts of his own airport in the end was not survivable.

Gichuki, whose term of office already started under a cloud with open allegations of patronage, nepotism and favouritism, headed the KAA when an avalanche of issues raised vis a vis the construction of Terminal 4 and more so the planned Greenfield Terminal dogged his tenure at the top with repeated calls in the past for his removal.

Once actually suspended by his board, another saga all in itself with former transport minister Kimunya knee deep in the mud of corporate infighting, he clawed his way back by obtaining a court order against his own chairman of the board, a situation which ultimately made working together literally impossible, and finally now leading to his downfall, among other reasons as stated before.

It is understood that the board exercised the right not to offer Gichuki an renewal of his contract which was due to end in October and sent him on terminal leave pending the selection of a new KAA CEO.

Meanwhile was Ms. Lucy Mbugua, presently General Manager Marketing and Business Development, appointed Acting CEO and has her work cut out already.

The board, following Gichuki’s failure of making an impact on sorting out the JKIA challenges for international arrivals and departures, has directed her to immediately embark on the following measures to improve passenger handling: ‘

The JKIA parking garage will within three weeks be converted into a temporary arrival hall housing immigration and customs points to move out of the tented structures.

Unit 2 Departures between Gates 4 and 8 will be made operational immediately for Kenya Airways’ departures.

Unit 1 Check in will within the space of 3 weeks be modified for the use of all other airlines for check in of passengers.

A larger temporary terminal will be established and operational within 2 months.

Parts of the new Terminal 4 must be completed for use by airlines by the end of this year, while work in other areas will continue on a 24 / 7 basis to bring forward the commissioning of the new terminal building from the projected dates in mid to late 2014.

Aviation sources were prompt to react to the news in essence saying good riddance to bad rubbish, though using words unfit to be repeated here, blaming Gichuki and his administration for failing to implement a range of findings made during past fire drills while concentrating on politicking and showboating. ‘I can point you to at least a half dozen others who should follow Gichuki and be sacked too. KAA now has a chance to be professionalized on the top and though Gichuki worked at KAA for long, his career collapsed in thin air. He was appointed instead of a more competent person and this is the prize Kenya has to pay for such nepotism’.

Reports coming in from JKIA however speak of largely exemplary behaviour from airline staff as well as from the staff of government agencies for arriving and departing passengers to make a very difficult situation easier to bear, while more remedies are now being out into place on the fast track. Watch this space.

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