By Edwin Okoth
The Transport ministry used unrealistic timelines to lock out local assemblers from the high- capacity bus tender.
Trade and Industrialisation Cabinet secretary Peter Munya said the local manufacturers are capable of meeting the standards of producing the 64 buses Kenya for the improved commuter system set to be rolled out soon but tight timelines kept them away.
"It is not about standards but time. Our local manufacturers may not have met the tight deadline but we have assured them that the next set of buses will be made locally as a way of promoting manufacturing in the country," he said during a tour the Kenya Bureau of Standards offices last week.
Mr Munya's remark appears to contradict a position taken earlier by his Transport and Infrastructure counterpart James Macharia who opted for imports, citing quality concerns on local production.
The decision to import the high-capacity buses from South Africa had elicited an uproar among local motor vehicle assemblers who felt State was going back on its local content push.
"We have the capacity to supply BRT (Bus Rapid Transport) vehicles using the new bodybuilding standards, we simply don't understand why the government is going for South Africa," said Isuzu East Africa chief executive Rita Kavashe said last month when Mr Macharia announced the move to source from South Africa.
Kenya hopes to deploy some 300 high capacity buses.
The first batch was expected to be received in the country last month but they did not arrive for an unexplained reason.
The government will use the buses to launch five BRT corridors in Nairobi in a move aimed at reducing traffic congestion in the capital.
Priority corridors include Limuru-Kangemi-CBD-Imara Daima -- Athi River to Kitengela road.