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‘Police vehicle not insured’

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The recent burning of a police anti-riot vehicle in skirmishes with Lilongwe residents has led to revelations that the Malawi Police Service may have flouted government procurement and asset management regulations.

An investigation by The Daily Times has established that the Nyala Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) was among several second-hand vehicles procured from a South African supplier allegedly without due diligence.

The refurbished vehicles were bought at a time the ineffectiveness of the Nyala APC was already in the public domain.

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A fact check with South African police authorities has shown that the Nyala APC had been rendered inappropriate for the country’s policing needs way back in 2009.

A report we have seen states that the South African Parliament disapproved the continued use of the Nyala APC because ‘they were fuel guzzlers and undependable as they easily develop faults.’

Incidentally, police officers manning the armoured vehicle in Lilongwe abandoned it after it reportedly developed a technical fault.

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“Police vehicles are not insured. Neither do they undergo certificate of fitness (CoF) inspections which is a big departure from the government policy on insurance risk,” a source in government said.

A check with the Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services also indicated that public vehicles are not exempted from CoF, a requirement for all vehicles under the Road Traffic Act.

Commenting on the insurance aspect, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe said the failure to insure police vehicles is a breach of government policy which requires line ministries and departments to insure their key assets in case of eventualities.

“Every ministry is responsible for insuring its assets. And if the Ministry of Home Affairs doesn’t insure police assets, they have some explaining to do,” Gondwe said in an interview last Monday.

Asked for comment on the issue, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs and Internal Security Sam Madula said police handle their own affairs including expenditure and assets, and thus referred us to the Inspector General of Police, saying he was better placed to comment competently.

However, there was little success as the IG Lexten Kachama also declined to comment on the matter and referred this reporter to the National Police spokesperson, James Kadadzera.

“It would be difficult to divulge information on how many anti-riot vehicles are in our possession for security reasons. Regarding the other

issues, I’ll need more time to find the details,” said Kadadzera.

However, a source at Police Headquarters has confided in this reporter that six Nyala APC refurbished vehicles manufactured in South Africa were procured by the Malawi Police Service in 2011, two years after being rendered ineffective by Pretoria.

An analysis of itemised budget documents in the last five years to ascertain if there were allocations for insurance for the MPS yielded nothing.

The budget documents, among others, list vehicles’ running expenses, routine maintenance of assets and acquisition of fixed assets which are said to exclude insurance.

A local insurance expert Grant Mwenyechanya in an interview deplored the failure by government departments to insure their assets despite the insurance sector engaging the government on the matter for a long time.

Mwenyechanya said the recent damage of the police vehicle should renew the need for the police to consider obtaining insurance cover against risks.

“We have engaged them long enough but they don’t take heed, we hope this is a wakeup call and they will put insurance in their budget,” he said.

At present, most government assets are not covered by insurance because, given the high total value and budget constraints in the wake of donor flight, it is ascertained would be too costly to insure the assets.

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