The supplier of the Mercedes Benz buses to be used for the delayed bus rapid transit (BRT) system in Kenya will set up a local assembly plant in Nairobi.
Housing and Urban Development Principal Secretary Charles Hinga said local manufacturers have also been given the required specifications for the BRT buses.
“The buses are Mercedes Benz. The supplier of the buses will set up a local plant here to do the right specifications. On BRT, we will not cut corners. Local suppliers have been given the specifications and they can also supply,” Mr Hinga said.
He did not specify whether it is Mercedes Benz that will set up the plant or another company that is authorised to fabricate the buses on behalf of the South Africa-based supplier.
This is set to calm the nerves of Kenya-based manufacturers who were up in arms after the government chose a South African supplier while at the same time pushing the “Buy Kenya, Build Kenya” policy aimed at giving local players priority.
It will also be a big boost for the manufacturing pillar in the government’s “Big Four Agenda” given that assembling locally will help develop local capacity and create jobs.
The other challenge for importing the buses was that it would make repairs and maintenance needlessly costly.
The government extended the bidding period for the tender to design and build infrastructure for the high capacity buses to decongest Nairobi, even as buses ordered from South Africa rot in a waiting yard.
Mr Hinga defended the tender extension, saying it would allow bidders more time for clarifications.
“We extended the bidding period because bidders sent questions for clarification. Some requested extension based on clarification; it happens all the time, and we publish it in the papers,” he said.