Forest service boss faces probe for allowing wife to run hotel inside Karura Forest
Parliament wants the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to investigate Kenya Forest Service (KFS) board chairman Peter Kinyua for allowing his wife to operate a hotel in the middle of Karura Forest.
The National Assembly’s Environment and Natural Resources committee says Mr Kinyua acted contrary to section 101 of the Penal Code and Public Officer Ethics Act 2003 and should be probed for possible conflict of interest and abuse of office that led to the destruction of forests.
The committee, which inquired into forest resource management and logging activities in Kenya, said Mr Kinyua knowingly in contravention of the law and the Mwongozo Code of Governance for State Corporations, exhibited conflict of interest in doing business with KFS.
“The chairperson of the board operated a private hotel at Karura Forest. There was an illegality in the collection of revenue at Karura Forest by the “Friends of Karura” instead of the KFS. This was in violation of the Public Finance Management Act, 2012,” Kareke Mbiuki, who chairs the committee, said in the report to Parliament.
“If found culpable, he should be barred from holding any public office,” the committee said.
Friends of Karura operates and maintains the forest together with KFS and share revenues equally.
In his defence, Mr Kinyua told MPS that his wife started the Karura Forest hotel, The River Café, before he was tapped as chair of the service.
He says that his wife’s hotel operation in Karura Forest was declared when he rose to the helm of KFS in March 2016.
He was appointed director of the service in July 2 and is a major player in the coffee business through his export firm, Servicoff Limited.
The committee accused Mr Kinyua of suspending 26 top KFS officers without regard to the KFS Human Resource Manual, the State Corporations Act and the Forest Conservation and Management Act, 2016.
“He was essentially performing the duties of the organisation’s management and KFS board. He acted as though he was an executive chairperson, which he was not,” Mr Mbiuki said.
Mr Kinyua suspended the 26 senior KFS managers in February, a day after the Executive, through the Deputy President’s office, imposed a 90- day moratorium on timber harvesting.
The MPs said no formal board meeting was held as required by the law before the affected senior officers were sent on compulsory leave.
A taskforce was subsequently formed to look into the issue of forest conservation and management in the country.
The taskforce has since handed in its report in which it indicts the KFS board for destruction of the country’s forest cover.
The damning report on the state of forests and logging has revealed how the forests’ custodian, the KFS, destroyed swathes of precious trees countrywide.
The report released last Monday says the board and management of KFS have been unable to stem, and in some instances, have directly participated in, abated, and systemised rampant corruption and abuse of office.