Govt vehicles put under surveillance

Source: Govt vehicles put under surveillance | Sunday Mail (Local News)

Lea Mutanda

Civil servants that have a tendency of abusing Government vehicles have been put on notice, as all vehicles are currently being fitted with tracking systems, including fuel-and engine-monitoring devices.

Although the policy, which is enforceable through Public Service Commission (PSC) Circular No. 5 of 2011, has been on the books for the past eight years, it was, however, not strictly monitored. The ongoing $5,3 million project – expected to be completed within the next three months – has been contracted to TelOne, and is envisaged to eliminate vehicle abuse and ensure huge cost savings for Government.

The responsibility to manage the fleet has been moved from ministries to the Central Mechanical and Equipment Department (CMED). A control room from which all vehicle movements will be monitored has also since been established at the parastatal’s head office in the capital.

According to CMED managing director Engineer Davison Mhaka, monitoring devices have already been fitted on the first batch of 100 vehicles.

“Government is meeting the installation cost of the tracking system and has to date paid tracking devices for 2 121 vehicles that CMED compiled from submissions by Government ministries on their individual fleet sizes,” Eng Mhaka told The Sunday Mail.

“Tracking devices for 100 vehicles have since been received and these are currently being fitted, and a number of ministries have been asked to bring their vehicles on scheduled dates.”

TelOne was roped in after winning a tender floated in March this year.

“We expect to have fitted tracking devices on the whole fleet within a timeframe of three months beginning December 2019. So this exercise will run until end of February 2019,” said Eng Mhaka.

The fuel and engine-temperature monitoring devices are expected to prevent fuel abuse and incidences of damage to vehicle engines, respectively. Further, it is believed that the tracking system will eliminate unauthorised trips through geo-fencing and help monitor mileage, which ensures timeous servicing of the vehicles.

The technology is also capable of detecting bad driving habits such as speeding, harsh breaking and excessive idling.

Stringent

Current regulations restrict the use of vehicles to civil servants that have a valid Government Authority to Drive (GATD).

Travels outside stipulated boundaries can only be undertaken after the driver receives express authority from the employer.

In addition, all pool vehicles are parked at workplaces after working hours.

Abusing Government motor vehicles presently attracts disciplinary action and stripping the accused of the privilege to use the facility in most instances. Keeping the motor vehicle fleet in good working order is one of the key tenets of Government’s drive to efficiently and effectively administer State assets.

Vehicle loan scheme

In March this year, Government replaced personal issue vehicles with the vehicle loan scheme through the promulgation of Statutory Instrument 52 of 2019.

It entitles principal directors, directors and deputy directors to receive vehicle loans that are variously capped.

It also extends a rebate of duty in respect of one vehicle imported or taken out of bond by serving senior public servants.

The loans are issued through the Transport Purchase Fund which is administered by CMED.

Principal directors are entitled to US$40 000, directors US$30 000 and deputy directors US$20 000.

The decision to switch to a loan scheme was made after realising that Government was spending a lot of money maintaining its fleet.

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