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Finally, Kenya seizes fuel guzzlers

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 27 – Ministers and other senior government officials have until the end of Wednesday to surrender all their fuel guzzlers and pick a VW Passat replacement.

In a circular issued on Monday, Treasury Permanent Secretary Joseph Kinyua said the directive was in compliance with a government policy announced by Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta during this year’s Budget Speech.

“The purpose of this letter therefore is to request you to deliver your current non-compliant vehicle with its logbook and tools to the Chief Mechanical and Transport Engineer by COB (close of business) Wednesday 28 October,” Mr Kinyua’s letter read in part.

“And collect your new official vehicle from CMC Motors showroom on Lusaka Road in Industrial Area.”

In his Budget Speech, Mr Kenyatta had indicated that the government would purchase Volkswagen Passats as the standard vehicle for Cabinet Ministers, Assistant Ministers, PSs and Accounting Officers.

“This policy aims at not only maintaining quality, reliability and cost-effectiveness of fleet and service operations, but also seeks to address the image of the government as one that demonstrates prudence in financial management and is sensitive to Kenyans concerns,” Mr Kinyua said in his Monday memo.

According to Mr Kinyua the decision to purchase standardised vehicles for the top government officials was made on the need to take advantage on the economies of scale realized in bulk purchasing and reduce operation and maintenance costs.

“It will now also be easier for government to monitor the efficient utilization of the vehicles across ministries and departments under the implementation of the new transport policy while controlling costs in fleet management,” he said.

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According to Mr Kinyua the new pool is estimated at Sh500 million. The government expects to save at least Sh2 billion annually on fuel and maintenance costs of the fuel guzzlers.

The Government had initially set a deadline of September 30 but this was not effected as a task force appointed by the Finance Minister was putting final touches on the austerity measures.

The Wednesday’s deadline is likely to be net by resistance going by previous pronouncements from some Ministers and other senior officials.

Housing Minister Soita Shitanda is on record saying he won’t surrender his fuel guzzling four wheel drive vehicle because of his status in the society.

However Mr Kinyua says in his memo that the senior officers can access four wheel vehicles but that would be based on assessment of the ministries core function and associated area of operation outside the main cities.

“These vehicles will be restricted to Ministerial Transport Pools and will not be attached to individuals,” Mr Kinyua said.

Parliament and Judiciary have already written to Mr Kenyatta indicating their willingness to surrender the non compliant vehicles. In July Clerk of National Assembly Patrick Gichohi said National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende would surrender his 3900cc official vehicle so would the Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim and himself.

However ministries providing essential and security services will be exempted so that their functions are not disrupted.

The surrendered vehicles, according to Mr Kenyatta, would be sold to raise funds for the resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons who were uprooted from their homes during the 2007 post election violence that rocked the country.

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