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Kibaki, First Lady reject offer of eight the top of range cars

By | Jul 8th 2009 | 3 min read
By | July 8th 2009

President Kibaki and First Lady Lucy Kibaki have directed eight top-the-range vehicles bought for them without their authority be returned to the dealers.

With the stroke of the pen the First Family put Cabinet members who have vowed they would hold onto their high-capacity engines despite last month’s budgetary decision in an awkward position. If they hold onto the fuel-guzzlers they could be seen as defying the President and also going against the grain of public opinion.

The eight vehicles were bought at the end of the last financial year and delivered to State House. Government sources last evening revealed the vehicles were four Mercedes Benzes E280 Series and four Toyota Prado.

State House’s rejection of the cars came a day after the Government, through the Ministry of Finance, published a tender notice for the disposal of boarded and surplus motor vehicles, as a cost cutting measure.

The First Family said this was part of the gesture of tightening the belts in the tough economic times. "Following the instructions by their Excellencies the eight vehicles were this morning delivered to the dealers,’’ said a Presidential Press Service dispatch that broke the news.

Car dealers say one Mercedes Benz E280 Series goes for between Sh4 million and 9 million, while a Toyota Prado in question costs between Sh9 million and15 million.

Glamorous fleet

The variable cost is determined by the extras loaded on the vehicles and which make them superior to the ordinary makes in showrooms. It could include cooler boxes, piped music, bulletproof tires and windows as extra interior space. Some of the customised vehicles could also have special electronic trackers and sensors.

Sources revealed some of the vehicles were delivered on Friday while the last batch was driven to State House yesterday.

But the President and First Lady on learning of the additions to their already sleek and glamorous fleet, demanded to know who had ordered them and why they had been procured without their consent. It was neither clear who signed the contractual, order and delivery papers nor did the First Family statement touch on this.

"Those answers were not forthcoming and I can tell you the President and the First Lady are very unhappy with all those involved in this embarrassing move," added the sources, who did not wish to be named owing to the sensitivity of the matter.

It is normal Government practice that whenever vehicles are to be ordered for top Government officials such as the President, Vice-President and Prime Minister, they are consulted so that their personal preferences can be considered.

"State House will support austerity measures announced by the Minister for Finance on a freeze in the purchase of new vehicles. As an immediate measure we are ordering the return of the eight vehicles that were purchased without our knowledge," added First Family, in a statement sent to newsrooms yesterday.

Mr and Mrs Kibaki also appealed to all ministries to support the efforts by Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta to cut down on Government costs as outlined in the Budget.

They underlined the importance of supporting cost cutting measures, especially when Kenyans are going through various challenges that require realignment of Government finances to priority areas, including provision of food and water.

"It is critical that all departments seek ways of ensuring that they adhere to measures that cut on Government costs.

It is also important that Government projects are completed on time and cost effectively to ensure wananchi benefit from the many projects that are being implemented," said their Excellencies.

Wasteful projects

They also appealed to wananchi to take a keen interest in the use of the huge resources that the Government was now channeling to the grassroots, through the Constituency Development Fund and line ministries.

"The Government is channeling these resources because it believes in developing all regions. Wananchi must however be on the lookout for wasteful projects and misuse of funds," they added.

"The funds we are allocating to the grassroots have the great potential of transforming our rural areas into hub-centres of development and create thousands of jobs for our young people. We encourage all wananchi to be active participants in the development process by demanding accountability and transparency in the use of public funds," they added.

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