This week there was disturbing picture of 11 motorcycles abandoned at Karugutu health center IV in Ntoroko district.
The motorcycles, which looked on the surface in fairly good order had grass growing from under them and were badly cobwebbed.
One can only guess that the motorcycles may have got some reparable mechanical fault but for lack of funds or nearby garage have been mothballed.
And this is not an isolated incident. Hundreds of cars, pick up and even ambulances are rusting away under the elements, in districts around the country, and even in parking yards in Kampala, out of neglect.
"It’s funny though, how the big bosses never lack for a powerful, four wheel drive vehicle, while transport to aid the public have a disturbing frequency of breakdowns....
A few years ago a friend of mine was looking into brokering the outsourcing of the management of the government fleet to private operators.
As he explained it a fleet manager would come in take charge of the government fleet, assign vehicles to officials according to their needs – so no Prado VX for people who are just doing city runs, they would optimise the fleet according to the demands – so its not unfeasible that some departments may have vitzs only and would manage their use via on board computers – so finally government would be able to enforce the no vehicle out after dark rule.
My friend explained that the savings to government in fuel, maintenance, repair and replacement costs would plummet – he suggested that by as much as 70 percent and these savings could be deployed in more critical areas than to pamper government fat cats.
He estimated that government had thousands of cars wheezing around, hundreds of which were surplus to requirement or boarded up. By rationalising the numbers alone he foresaw billions of shillings in savings that is even before we put each vehicle to its intended use and restricting their movement.
That was three years ago. I doubt whether my friend is still waiting around.
It is not difficult to see why. Those planned savings are somebody’s extra income somewhere, somehow. It is not difficult to imagine that a network of public officials and suppliers, from everything from vehicle dealers to financiers would be determined to maintain the status quo.
For example it wold not take a newspaper photograph to alert the powers that be the, that they were out of service. It is even possible that the fleet managers would have been alerted about the condition of the bike before it finally conked out. They would either have called in the bike for pre-emptive work or sent out a mechanic to sort the issue out on site.
As it is now the officials – maybe an agricultural extension worker or an outreach nurse, the vehicles are assigned to are probably grounded at headquarters twiddling their thumbs content to collect their pay check at the end of the month anyway.
What is most likely to happen now is that the bikes will be replaced, the abandoned bikes sold off on as is basis at throw away price and everybody will be happy except the ultimate beneficiary of the services that would come with the bikes. The tax payer may not suffer because he will be blissfully ignorant of these shenanigans.
And this wold happen to the abandoned ambulances, tractors and trucks abandoned all around the country.
"Numbers were hard to come by on what government spends on managing its fleet of vehicles but a full fledged commission of inquiry may well be long overdue....