Custom-made limo ordered for Raila
Published on March 24, 2008, 12:00 am
By Standard Reporter
The main perks that will go with the Prime Minister-designate Raila Odinga’s office continue to fall in place, awaiting his swearing in expected this week.
The process of ordering a sleek, custom-made, Mercedes Benz car for the prime minister is understood to have started and is at the assembly and delivery stage.
At the same time, plans are at an advanced stage to set up the PM’s parliamentary office, which will be near the Speaker’s.
Last week, the Government sent a senior Presidential Escort official to Germany to identify a Mercedes Benz 500 Guard series for the prime minister.
The official, who returned last night, had left on Tuesday immediately after a meeting between President Kibaki, Raila and foreign envoys at Harambee House.
The Standard has reliably learnt that Presidential Escort Commandant, Mr Michael Kabue, was given the task of identifying the executive car, model and colour befitting the prime minister’s stature.
Kabue, according to sources, was required to personally deliver to the Mercedes main plant in Germany the exact specifications of the car.
Once ordered, the vehicle will be assembled in one of the plants in Berlin, D¸sseldorf or Hamburg.
Ordinarily, the user of the car is consulted on additional features that the car should have such as personalised comfort and security features.
For the Raila limo, its finer details were not made available to journalists as a security measure.
However, the Mercedes-Benz S500 Guard series allows more secure personal transport and is favoured by VIPs worldwide.
Unlike other modified armoured limos, the S500 Guard is purpose-built from the factory. It can survive an initial attack — ranging from sledge hammer blows to handgun rounds of up to .44 magnums in calibre and allow the occupants get to safety.
The car meets the international ballistic protection standard known as B4, which certifies that the occupants are safe from all acts of mechanical violence.
It also has a variety of components, including extensive steel armour plating used for the entire occupant shell, including the doors.
According to experts, armouring prevents bullets from passing through door locks and gaps where the doors are shut. On the doors where metal adjoins window glass, a meticulously tested labyrinth system prevents bullets from entering the cabin.
The windows are composed of thick multi-layered polycarbonate security glass, about one inch thick, that does not splinter when hit or shot at.
Additional security upgrades include run-flat tyres with a wheel pressure warning system and an optional self-sealing fuel tank that resists leaks when punctured by small-arms fire.
To compensate for the additional weight that the armouring adds, the S500 Guard has reinforced suspension components and upgraded brakes.
No sunroof is offered on this car because it is considered too much of a security risk.
In addition, Mercedes’ emergency calling system — Tele Aid — is standard equipment for the car.
The search for the prime minister’s car comes at a time when elite officers from the GSU’s Recce Unit in Ruiru have been identified and vetted and are undergoing training ready for deployment as soon as Raila is sworn in.
Some of the officers in the PM-designate motorcade will be retained, while others would be replaced.
In Parliament, sources said that a consultant has already been identified to come up with the structure of how the PM’s parliamentary office should look like and to design staffing needs.
Apart from the office in Parliament, it is also understood that a committee that has been searching for the PM’s working office has settled on Marshalls House.
The committee, which had earlier ruled out Treasury, Office of the President and Foreign Affairs buildings, all on Harambee Avenue, is said to have picked the nearby Marshalls House.
If the Government gives its go-ahead, the building will be bought from the Central Bank Depository Fund, which owns it