Cabinet Wrangles Surface Over Imported Car Directives

  • President Uhuru Kenyatta’s name was dragged into a Cabinet row over imported car directives and management of the National Standards Council (NSC) under the Kenya Bureau of Standards. 

    Trade CS Betty Maina barred KEBS directors from holding board meetings and accused his Agriculture colleague Peter Munya of insubordination. The row at KEBS involves the vehicle inspection contracts, tenders awarded to companies to inspect imported used cars and spare parts. 

    CS Maina’s effort to suspend Bernard Ngore as the chairperson of the National Standards Council (NSC) was overturned by the courts. The CS was seeking to direct the vehicle inspection contracts which were a monopoly under the Trade Ministry. 

    However, under Ngore’s leadership, it was extended to include other players. Parliament, later on, raised concerns over how private firms illegally acquired tenders from KEBS. Attorney General Paul Kihara Kariuki also noted that the bureau flouted regulations. 

    President Uhuru Kenyatta chairs a Cabinet meeting on Thursday, October 8, 2020, at State House, Nairobi

    Trade CS revoked Ngore’s appointment in November 2020 and appointed Ken Wahome Mwatu as chairman, stating that Mwatu was scheduled to take over in July 2020 through a Presidential directive. 

    In an affidavit sworn in court, CS Maina stated that the directive issued by Kenyatta on July 13, 2018, indicated that Mwatu was to serve as Chairman effectively July 12 to December 16, 2021. 

    However, then Trade CS Peter Munya (now Agriculture) on November 15, 2019, appointed Ngure for a three-year term thus revoking the Head of State’s appointment. 

    “An appointment done by the President cannot be overturned by any CS. By revoking Ngore’s appointment, I was trying to amend illegality at the NSC,” CS Maina stated. 

    Her decision to suspend board meeting at KEBS is affecting critical decision making besides jeopardising inspection procedures at the ports. 

    The move comes at a time when Kenya is working towards phasing out used cars, vans and minibuses from the second-hand market in 2 years time. At the start of 2019, the government advertised the implementation of the National Automotive Policy aimed at supporting locally assembled vehicles.

    According to the plan, the age limit of imported passenger vehicles was to be progressively raised to expand the market for vehicles assembled in Kenya.

    To expedite the process, on Thursday, December 10, the President commissioned the local assembly of Proton Saga saloon cars at the Associated Vehicle Assemblers (AVA) in Miritini, Mombasa County.

    He lauded developers supporting the government’s agenda to revive the local vehicle assembly industry adding that the sector would help to support wealth and employment creation for the Kenyan youth.

    President Uhuru Kenyatta commissions local assembly of Proton Saga saloon cars on Thursday, December 10
    President Uhuru Kenyatta commissions local assembly of Proton Saga saloon cars on Thursday, December 10

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