After a social media frenzy that captured a fire engine with Meru county branding being handed over to Kisumu governor, the donor behind the project sought to clarify issues yesterday.
Handing over the donation of two Volvo Saxon fire engines to Meru county, Fredrick Kiogora Atandi the man behind the Kenya Fire Engine Service confirmed it was true that the Kisumu engines had been branded Meru.
“But that is only because Meru is the central logistics point of our distribution of fire engines and the branding happens in the United Kingdom through one company,” Atandi said on the sidelines of a handover ceremony attended by Meru governor Kiraitu.
Meru received two of the engines while one had on Teusday been handed over to Kisumu and earlier on Monday another one to Tharaka Nithi County.
A total of 19 fire fighters and emergency staff from Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire Fire Service and the East Anglian Ambulance Service have been training staff from the three counties and Mombasa on modern firefighting and emergency services alongside the presentation of the machines.
According to Atandi who works with the former Hertfordshire Fire Service manager Raymond Willets in sourcing the machines from donors in the United Kingdom explained that Meru county was their logistics centre for the project and the distribution centre once they arrived in the country.
“We therefore indicate on the paperwork for shipment that the machines are headed for Meru though once they are in Kenya each county is incharge of payment of duty and customs for their respective vehicle which is in the region of Sh1 million,” Atandi told the Standard.
According to the Bedford based Kenyan, some of the engines which were donated yesterday had an 1800 litre capacity and would help the benefiting counties bridge their wanting emergency response capability.
He said Meru was chosen as the logistics centre because of his long relationship with Kiraitu which started with a donation of a fire engine to Nkubu Township in 2007 during his tenure as the South Imenti MP.
“Kiraitu later facilitated the donation of two more engines which were sent to Meru town and Maua and visited the Bedfordshire Fire Service in 2012,” said Atandi.
Atandi claimed some counties had turned down the fire engines when they learnt they were donations and they would not be able to do some kickback from the deal.
Kiraitu said the two fire engines will be sent to Meru town and Nkubu and future they will be seeking more donations to be sent to be sent to Timau.
He added that the county wanted to be Kenya’s new centre for firefighting and announced the employment of the entire fire brigade on permanent and pensionable terms which has been hired on casual basis.
Deputy governor Titus Ntuchiu refuted social media reports that Meru fire engines had been sent to Kisumu for a dummy ceremony saying they were firm under the county government on protecting public interest.
“We in Meru are not open to such kind of games,” said Ntuchiu. “We are led by a responsible governor in charge of a responsible team.
Kisumu Governor Professor Anyang’ Nyong’o has been under pressure from Kenyans to explain how he received the Meru county branded fire engine.
Photos posted by his press service showed the Kisumu City Manager Ms Dorice Ombara posing for a photo beside the engine bearing the name Meru.
Social media was aflame with the romours that Kisumu had been hoodwinked after the photos went viral.
According to Mr Atandi, only counties that commit to employing a staff of six for each donated fire engine and to maintain the vehicle benefit from the project.