You may not have noticed, it all happened quite quietly really. Kenya’s judiciary have taken delivery of 40 brand new, very expensive fuel-guzzling Mercedes limousines and 12 top-of-the-range Toyota Prados and Landrovers whilst at the same time the government have given matatu operators permission to import another 1,500 of the 14-seater menaces. Both decisions mark a 180 degree turn in government policy.
MERCEDES S-CLASS 350
The 40 new Mercedes S-Class 350’s apparently arrived at the docks in September, as ordered by the Judicial Services Commission (JSC). They are beautiful machines but then at a cost of between Sh8 million and Sh14 million each depending on which precise models have been delivered (on which press reports are somewhat confused) they should be!
Costly to buy, the Mercedes S-Class 350 is pretty expensive to run as well. Again depending on which models have been bought by the JSC the Kenya Forum reckons that they consume about a gallon of fuel for every 36 miles traveled on the open road (15.3 kilometers per litre) and only 21 miles to the gallon (8.92 kilometers per litre) during urban driving.
VOLKSWAGEN PASSAT NOT GOOD ENOUGH
It’s only two years since government policy stipulated that public servants should drive or be driven in a Volkswagen Passat 2000: cheaper to buy and cheaper to run than the Merc but obviously not good enough for Kenya’s new, fairer and friendlier judiciary as they go about their business serving the people, turning up late for court or even pointing a pistol at a shopping centre security guard.
Talking of the people of Kenya, most of whom can’t afford a wheel hub for Mercedes S350, the news is that they will be provided with more 14-seater matatus to travel about our fair country, ploughing along the pavements, overtaking on a brow of a hill and generally forcing other people off the road (unless of course it’s a judge in a Mercedes S350 coming the other way – then they’ll be in trouble!).
Until about May of this year government policy had been to phase out the matatus and replace them with larger buses but Co-operative Development Minister Joseph Nyaga (cooperating with the Kenya Matatu Owners Association on this occasion) has given permission for 1,500 matatus to be imported into Kenya.
MATATUS NEEDED FOR THE ELECTION – JOSEPH NYAGA
“With the forthcoming general election, the demand for public transport is expected to be much higher”, Nyaga told a meeting of the Mt Kenya Matatu Owners Association recently, “matatus will play an important role in the movement of voters and election material”, he continued.
The Mt Kenya region already has about 30,000 matatus operating in the area but minister Nyaga argues that, “We need incentives to help prosper our country. We need support to grow the public transport industry”. To these ends he has called on ‘vehicle dealers, banks and clearing agents to offer reasonable terms to the matatu buyers’.
Hmmm… are you thinking what the Kenya Forum is thinking? Whose economy is this helping? Whose voters?
Be it more Mercedes or more matatus this is not a coordinated or strategic transport policy in operation, nor is it transparent government, says the Kenya Forum.
NOTICE TO ALL KENYA FORUM READERS – US ELECTION NIGHT REPORTS & ANALYSIS
The Kenya Forum will be running a continuous posting from the early hours of Wednesday 7thNovember (starting about 3.30am Nairobi time) reporting the results as they come in with commentary and analysis from our team, including a US-based political scientist, ‘APJB’ giving his views as the news comes in. The Kenya Forum will welcome comments on the night from our many readers in Kenya and around the world and we will publish them live (if they are polite and do not break the laws of the Republic of Kenya!).