China Snatches Sh1.4b Kenya Police Vehicle Contract
Even as you wheel home Chinese goods from almost every shop, get treated in Chinese-built hospitals, drive along Chinese-made super highway, enjoy a soccer game in a China-built stadium, ride a train running on a China-built railway from Lamu to Ethiopia and Sudan, you could soon dial 999 and a policeman responds in a Tiggo.
Chery Tiggo, a Sport Utility Vehicle could soon replace the GK Land Rover and Land Cruiser, as soon as Government imports 760 motor vehicles for the Provincial Administration and Police Department from China ahead of the General Election.
The Administration Police, the Provincial Administration, and Regular police face a severe shortage of vehicles estimated at 800.
In response, the Government has allocated Sh1.4 billion for the purchase of a fresh fleet to bolster security operations.
The acquisition aims to improve and widen security patrols in the wake of Somali militia Al Shabaab attacks, and to prepare for the election.
It is understood that at least Sh1 billion is being spent on the China-made station wagons, single and double cabin pick-up trucks, and at least a dozen lorries to be deployed to the departments.
Investigations by The Standard reveal that the first consignment of 212 cars for the police arrives any time next month, as they are still being customised and spray-painted in the force’s colours and emblazoned in their logos.
The lucrative tender was won by Chery Motors East Africa Ltd, a subsidiary of Stantech Motors in a bidding session after the company was duly pre-qualified by the Ministry of Public Works as a Government supplier.
A consignment of 60 vehicles is reported to be in Mombasa, but Ministry of Internal Security officers remained cagey with information and details of the first consignment, of 100 units of the Chery Tiggo station wagons, 50 double-cabin trucks, and single cabin pick-up trucks of ZX Grand Tiger models.
Some 12 trucks of the JAC model will also be supplied to the uniformed officers.
Internal Security minister George Saitoti said the force was set to receive a fresh fleet, but declined to be drawn into discussion about the consignment from China.
"It is important that we ensure our officers have vehicles that can enable them respond to issues effectively. We currently have a deficit," the Prof Saitoti said.
"This financial year the Ministry of Internal Security has been allocated Sh1.4 billion for the purchase of motor vehicles," Saitoti told The Standard on Wednesday.
Out of this allocation, the minister said Sh49.9 million would buy vehicles for the Provincial Administration; Sh1 billion for regular police, while Sh400 million will be spent on the Administration Police.
His Assistant minister, Orwa Ojode, however, confirmed that the Government is procuring vehicles for the police and the Provincial Administration.
Mr Ojode told The Standard, that there was a shortfall of 800 vehicles countrywide for Internal Security.
He noted that for the police they would import 160 vehicles, which are set to come over in a short while. He said they expect to import 300 vehicles for the Administration Police, and another 300 for the Provincial Administration.
"The vehicles will be distributed equally around the country. There are many district officers who do not have vehicles yet they are required to perform," he added.
Ojode noted that the Government was importing the vehicles to ensure that the police and Provincial Administration are better equipped to handle security matters.
"We are approaching the General Election and issues of security will be of high concern. We do not want our personnel to be handicapped," he added.
Ojode noted that they were still pleading with the Treasury to release more funds so that the Government can buy more vehicles.
But some quarters have reacted to the massive importation to be sourced from China’s Chery Automobile Company Ltd, raising concerns even before the consignment of 400 vehicles arrive in Mombasa.
The arrangement for the acquisition has been packaged with 40 vehicles to be delivered free of charge as an incentive.
The freebies have raised questions in the motor sector; with experts warning the number is beyond the normal trial freebies extended to bulk buyers.
Motor vehicle consultant Hanningtone Gaya on Wednesday criticised the deal and warned that the Government would not get value for money.
Said Gaya: "I would not advise the Government to go in that direction. Those are vehicles that have not been tried on Kenya’s rough terrain and bad roads."
"What is important in the acquisition of a car is first, the quality, and secondly, a reliable after-sales service," Mr Gaya said in an interview.
"The questions we must ask is where is the after- sales service and are spare parts available and affordable. If these questions are answered in the affirmative then the deal is right," said Gaya.
"Remember the challenges we experienced with the Mahindra and Daewoo brands? We must not go that direction again," Gaya warned.
Gaya recommended that police given the arduous nature of operations would have their best bet on Land Cruisers and Land Rovers, which have been tested over time.
Voices of dissent
Gaya dismissed the 40 cars donated free of charge as "a trap meant to hoodwink the (Kenyan) buyer."
But even within the rank and file of uniformed officers there were voices of dissent.
"We do not want to compromise the image of the police at this crucial time. We are still reeling from the effects of the Mahindra vehicles saga and in an election year this will be politicised," said a senior police officer who requested anonymity.
A top police officer confirmed that the procurement was being undertaken by Office of the President.
Senior Counsel Paul Muite on Wednesday told The Standard that security acquisitions remained shrouded in mystery despite a new constitutional era requiring transparency and accountability.
"The history of security acquisitions is littered with mysterious procurements and dates back to the 1960s and 1970s. This must stop," Muite said.
Mr Muite decried how trucks acquired from China have killed many military officers because the vehicles did not meet safety measures.
The decision to turn to China for the vehicles is expected to cause furore from other nations like Japan, Germany, and Britain, which have traditionally supplied cars to the Government of Kenya.
Source: The Standard