Shame of vehicles rotting in yards

Some of the high end Mercedes Benz vehicles owned by the government parked at the Milimani court. Though they only need minor repairs, many of the vehicles have been discarded and are rusting away. PHOTO | DENISH OCHIENG

What you need to know:

  • A Nation survey at Harambee House and Jogoo House revealed that 65 vehicles are grounded, confirming the wastage
  • The office of the Auditor General Edward Ouko said that it had noted such wastage in purchases of small items in government

Hundreds of government vehicles that need just minor repairs are rusting away in public parking yards even as the State mounts campaigns to reduce wastage of resources.

The vehicles, some lying at a park yard at the entrance to President Kenyatta’s Harambee House office, could go to complete waste after the government adopted a new strategy of leasing vehicles.

Deputy President William Ruto recently said the government has leased 1,200 vehicles in a move that would save the government huge resources.

A Nation survey at Harambee House and Jogoo House revealed that 65 vehicles are grounded, confirming the wastage.

At the office of the President there are 20 cars.

At the entrance, a new-looking Pajero car is standing idle. So clean is the vehicle that a well-armed guard was leaning on it.

In the same yard, there are two grey Volkswagen Passat cars that appear brand new, save for their tyres which have been deflated. They, too, are not running.

As if that is not enough, there is a navy blue Range Rover to the extreme left of the yard. A peek into the vehicle confirmed that the interior was clean and had no scratches.

Its tyres clearly look new, although the vehicle had gathered dust.

Adjacent to the Range Rover, right after negotiating the corner to the visitor’s waiting lounge of the President’s office, are two more brand new grey VW saloon Passats.

Shockingly, one of the brand new ones has its registration number plate removed, and one of its tyres was deflated making one wonder whether it was bought to go and rot in the yard.

AUCTION

Close to it is another brand new car whose tires are covered in soil with black leather seat interiors and registration number GKA 195U.

However, other than the GK cars, there is also a Honda CRV, KAS 887s covered in leaves and dust. We could not establish whether it belongs to the government.

A brand new Passat goes for about Sh5.7 million and if they were repaired and sold, they would raise at least Sh41 million, as they would fetch less than the buying price.

This scene is an exact opposite to the left entrance of the highest office in the land, which is well manicured with flowers. When you get to the front entrance or the VIP entrance that faces Harambee Avenue, you see the evidence of a lean and clean government.

The motor yard here has only a few vehicles, and in fact there are at least nine available parking spaces.

Unlike the rear entrance used by the public, the yard has only eight GK cars, mostly the government recommended VW Passats.

But at the Ministry of Education’s office at Jogoo House, there is a whole row of stalled cars, mostly Land Rovers and Peugeots.

Again, nearly all of them had one of their tyres deflated.

Again, there were two new-looking VW Passats parked at the underground parking.

Strangely, these had no tyres deflated but they had gathered dust. A few officers interviewed at the parking simply said that the vehicles belonged to officials who served in the Kibaki regime.

According to Infrastructure Principal Secretary John Musonik, the solution lies with controlling officers in respective government ministries and departments who he said are responsible for handling such matters.

“If a vehicle is faulty, it is the responsibility of the controlling officer there to fix it as soon as possible. We should not have idle cars in government yards at a time when we are trying to cut such extraneous costs,” he said.

On the other hand, Transport Permanent Secretary Nduva Muli said that procedures in government require that obsolete vehicles or unproductive ones be auctioned, saying that each line ministry has a department to oversee such exercises.

SLOW PROCESS

He said vehicles lying in government offices should be repaired or sold to avoid unnecessary wastage.

A source at the Office of the President said that most of the vehicles were lying in the yards because of the bureaucracy involved in repairing them especially when there are major mechanical issues.

One of the mechanics who repairs the vehicles, noted that it takes at least five months for the government to settle a vehicle repair bill and sometimes they are forced to turn down government business.

An official who spoke on condition of anonymity said that new top government officials cite security when demanding for new cars whenever there is a simple mechanical or wear and tear issue.

Attempts to speak to the director in charge of procurement at the Treasury were unsuccessful.

However, the office of the Auditor General Edward Ouko said that it had noted such wastage in purchases of small items in government.

He said that the law was being changed to give the Auditor General mandate to audit even the small government purchases against ministerial needs and stop such transactions before they happen.

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