By Brian Okoth
The motorcade of Deputy President William Ruto was on Tuesday, September 22, among vehicles caught in traffic on Lang’ata Road at around 3pm.
Dr Ruto was on his way to Jubilee Party Headquarters in Pangani, Nairobi from his Karen residence, when a Cabinet Secretary’s four-vehicle motorcade allegedly pushed the DP’s convoy aside.
The incident happened near the Lang’ata/Mbagathi roundabout, his aides claim.
When reports of the said-incident hit social media, several online users accused the Jubilee Government of using Ruto’s juniors to “frustrate, mistreat and disrespect” the Deputy President.
Emmanuel Talam, who is the Director of Communication at the Deputy President’s Office, said the situation could have been misinterpreted as the DP personally chose to avoid inconveniencing other motorists by not requesting for the roads to be cleared for his procession.
Talam says “maybe the Cabinet Secretary was in a hurry, and requested to have the roads cleared for him or her”.
“And, because the DP was part of the motorists caught in traffic like other road users, he did not mind making way for the CS, who was in a hurry, to pass,” Talam told K24 Digital on Wednesday, September 23.
According to the Communications Director at the DP’s Office, Dr Ruto only requests for preferential treatment on the road, when he has important State events to attend and fears he could run late if he chooses to observe normal traffic activity.
“I do not think the Deputy President’s convoy making way for another VIP should make news,” said Talam, implying the Tuesday incident was a non-story as it was “one of Dr Ruto’s normal road habits”.
“Since 2013, when he was first voted in as Kenya’s Deputy President, he has always been caught in traffic, when he is not in a hurry. From the word go, he told his security guards and protocol officers never to inconvenience other motorists if he is not in a hurry to attend an important meeting or function. So, on several occasions, he has found himself stuck in traffic, it always happens; a good example is Lang’ata Road, where he is usually caught in choking traffic.”
Asked to clarify whether Tuesday’s incident was as a result of the DP’s kind road behaviour, or it was the CS’s “disregard” for the second-in-command, who has since fallen out of favour with his boss, the President, Talam said: “Concerning yesterday’s incident, I am not sure if he was indeed shoved aside to make way for a Cabinet Secretary. I have, however, asked for clarification from relevant authorities. I am still waiting for their response(s).”
“My thinking, however, is that the DP was not in a hurry when heading to Pangani from his Karen residence, and, most likely, the CS was [rushing somewhere], hence the need to clear the road for him or her.”
Dennis Itumbi, who was part of the DP’s procession, to Pangani told K24 Digitalthat the minister’s convoy drove right behind the DP’s from the Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) Headquarters in Lang’ata to Mbagathi roundabout — a distance of 5 kilometers — before the CS eventually asked for the road ahead to be cleared for his or her passage.
“Police officers who were controlling traffic at the roundabout cleared the road for the CS to pass. Of course, the DP’s convoy was ahead of the CS’s at that time. Just like other motorists ahead, the DP’s motorcade had to pull over — to the right — to allow the minister to pass,” said Itumbi.
Itumbi echoed Talam’s statement — that the DP usually chooses to observe normal traffic activity when not in a rush.
“Yesterday, he was going to monitor Jubilee Party’s preparations ahead of upcoming by-elections; that is not a national event. So, he found it unnecessary to request for preferential treatment on the road. However, when he is going to attend Cabinet meetings, which is his Constitutional duty, but risks running late due to traffic, he would request for the road to be cleared for him,” said Itumbi.
The former State House digital strategist, however, said he could not rule out the possibility of “disregard for the DP” as a reason why the CS ordered vehicles ahead of him or her to be pushed aside.
Dennis Itumbi said it would be an abuse of power if the CS, who forced the DP’s convoy to push to the side, is not among the ministers listed as VIPs entitled to special clearance on the road.
The CSs allowed to get road clearance, according to a May 30, 2019 statement by Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai, are: ministers for Defence, Interior, Finance and Foreign Affairs. The DP is also among the VIPs entitled to special passage.
“So, if the CS is not among the four entitled to road clearance, then he or she would clearly be abusing his or her power,” said Itumbi, who revealed he couldn’t immediately establish who the minister was.
A source, who spoke to K24 Digital in confidence due to the sensitivity of the matter, alleged that one month ago, the DP’s convoy was forced to pull over on Uhuru Highway so as to make way for a Cabinet minister. We couldn’t immediately verify the allegations.
We have since reached police sources for a comment over the Tuesday incident.
The Deputy President on Tuesday made an impromptu visit to Jubilee Party Headquarters in Pangani.
Talam said Dr Ruto was at the Pangani office to “check on the progress of the Party”.
The Party’s Deputy Secretary-General Caleb Kositany said the DP’s visit to Jubilee Headquarters was “the beginning of a process to resolve challenges facing the ruling political outfit”.
From K24 Digital