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CAR CLINIC: Cost does matter




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This column is almost a decade old; well done. On matters half-decade, what will be the effect of the new five-year limit import rule on the motor vehicle business this July? Will we experience an increase in sales of locally used vehicles?

Secondly, I am in the market for a new vehicle.

Having owned a 100 series Land Cruiser — very reliable — and driven a 200 series Land Cruiser, I was blown away by the Y62 Nissan Patrol. The take-off speed is insane for a vehicle that size. It drives more like a sports car on stilts. Visibility is also surprisingly good inside such vast real estate.

My wife, however, deems it ugly, especially its rear. Her preference is the Toyota Land Cruiser 200 series in diesel!

Putting in mind the fuel costs (petrol versus diesel), reliability and cost of maintenance, what is the better buy? I plan to buy a three-year old one and keep it for five years. Pete

The effect of the new five-year limit import rule will be a possible drop in imports; but this will not necessarily translate to increased sales of new cars.

New cars are horrendously expensive here; and few, if any, dealerships offer enough incentive for a punter to take the financing plunge into the lightly populated zero-mileage waters.

What I expect to happen is a surge in restoration projects, whereby previously junked cars may be brought back to life. This will be a direct result to a spike in used car prices owing to the drop in import numbers. Back to the Y62.

Nissan almost go its act together with this car but failed on three Ds: design, diesel and death. I agree with Mrs Pete; the car is not very easy on the eye, especially the rear fascia. Secondly, the only engine available is a petrol-powered 5.6 litre V8 and finally for some reason, Nissan products have abnormally extended life cycles that always leave them behind the competition and make them feel outdated in comparison.

There are ways around these problems — or at least some of them. The looks can be redeemed by use of body kits — Nismo has a fancy red and black trim that can be fitted on a Y62, leaving it looking a lot sharper and with just enough menace not to be called ugly.

You could also graft factory body parts from the USDM Nissan Armada, which is the exact same car but with brighter work, fancier paint, wheel arch flares and extended bumpers which salvage the odd look, somehow.

There was a rumour that a 5.0 litre Cummins diesel V8 would eventually find its way into the Patrol’s engine bay. This is the same engine used in the USDM Nissan Titan mega truck (which in petrol form sports the same 5.6 litre petrol V8 as the Y62) and would ensure a clean victory of the Nissan over the Toyota in almost everything except looks. Why is that, you ask?

The Patrol is a more powerful car. It has better handling, besides being quicker. It has a bigger glasshouse and the interior is less fussy — especially the high-visibility instrument cluster — though the infotainment system looks like it was designed by the same people who built Ben Hur’s chariot — probably around the same time too.

That aside, it is way cheaper compared with the Land Cruiser. How much cheaper?

Brand-new, a locally sold Patrol has lately been offered with price incentives that see it costing almost half the LC200, whose asking price shot up into Range Rover Vogue territory with the latest facelift.

As much as I gripe about Nissan’s ageing warhorse, the Land Cruiser 200 is not exactly new in itself, and is getting by on a combination of cosmetic updates and brand loyalty to stay alive.

That being said, the Land Cruiser looks so much better au naturale, has a lot more kit such as Active Height Adjustment (which may push the price further away from reach), is available with an extremely capable and awesome diesel V8 (c’mon Nissan!) and offers better resale value. It will hold on to its usefulness and desirability long after the Nissan has been relegated to retirement as an automotive sculpture-in-the-round.

Fuel costs: The Y62 is thirstier than a marooned sailor. The LC in diesel spec is a lot more economical, but you will pay for this at the sticker. Diesel Land Cruisers are very expensive.

Reliability: Toyota’s name speaks for itself. That the war in Chad got branded “The Toyota War” is testament enough to the dependability of the Land Cruiser even when the going gets military. Lesser Nissans may suffer poor credibility as far as longevity is concerned but I am yet to hear complaints against the Y62.

When I drove the vehicle, first in California in 2013 and then locally two years later (read the full review in Car Clinic DN2, October 7, 2015) it felt solid enough; as solid as you’d expect a dune-bashing off-road rig to be.

Cost of Maintenance: Do not expect it to be easy so thank God for solid build quality. Both vehicles have V8 engines, one may or may not have a twin-turbo set-up, so it boils down to how badly you abuse the two. Wreck them and it will hurt. Regular maintenance protocols are not going to be gentle either, but at least they will be few and far between.

The 2016 WRX lacks the characteristic Subaru ‘rumble’

I am a great fan of your work and I urge you to keep up. Your comprehension of the “Queen’s language” is also entertaining.

The Subaru picture you had as a theme on December 12 last year had me thinking. I am interested in getting a Subaru 2016 WRX. What are the pros and cons of this model? I am also torn between buying it locally or importing from Japan. Please advise.

Gone is the charismatic flat four rumble that has been the mainstay of Subaru engine and exhaust notes over years of using unequal length exhaust headers.

Gone is the charismatic flat four rumble that has been the mainstay of Subaru engine and exhaust notes over years of using unequal length exhaust headers. PHOTO| FILE
Hi Aloysius,

A question about the 2016 WRX seems to indicate that I have an enthusiast in my hands today, one with discretion.

The pros: It is a WRX, so it goes like stink (somewhat) and handles very well. These two are the exact reasons it exists anyway. Expect reliability and general daily usability unlike some other warmed-over car models.


There is a bit of a horsepower jump over outgoing models, which just solidifies the quickness mentioned earlier. It is roomy inside and has a big boot. They say it has good fuel economy but if you observe this, then you are not driving it the way it should be driven, which is quickly and fast.

The cons: There have only been two pretty Subarus — the BP wagon and BL saloon. Everything else has been polarising. The 2016 WRX is being stroked on the neck with an ugly stick — actually scratch that; it is not so much ugly as it is bland, which is even worse.

Secondly, gone is the charismatic flat four rumble that has been the mainstay of Subaru engine and exhaust notes over years of using unequal length exhaust headers. Now we have nothing. No noise. It could be a Mark X for all we know; a Mark X might even be louder.

Also, there exists something called a Golf R that, Check Engine Lights notwithstanding, makes a strong case against a WRX.

The bang per buck ratio will depend heavily on your negotiation skills at the market, but the R may just take the cake here.

Lastly, the car is noisy. No, I am not contradicting myself here, I know I just said the car is too quiet. What I meant was the engine and exhaust symphony — the two elements whose combined efforts have for years given sonorous exposition to the WRX’s raison d’être — is non-existent.

But when I say the car is noisy I mean wind and road noise. Tyre roar. Buffeting. I’m not asking for Volkswagen Phaeton levels of refinement but it is not too much to ask for some, is it?

Import the car. I seriously doubt you can find one for sale locally that fits your exact tastes. There are few and far between, and those few may have already seen some hard use, and not always in expert hands.

Between Mercedes Benz ML350 and Land Rover Discovery, which would you recommend?

Thanks for your educative column on cars and everything related. I am ready to move a step higher in car ownership and I am torn between a Mercedes Benz ML350 and Land Rover Discovery, both 2012. I have heard good reviews from both.

The intended use is largely urban with a weekly dash to the village, so off-road features are important. Do you have any comment on cost of spare parts (not fuel consumption)? What about air suspension verses ordinary suspension?

Land Rover Discovery.

Land Rover Discovery. PHOTO| FILE

The good reviews you heard must have come from folks who bought these vehicles brand-new because when brand-new, these cars are really good and having spent eight figures on a vehicle, don’t expect the buyer to belittle his own expenditure. It will be good even when it isn’t.

That being said, the pair do not make for good used vehicles. They are heavily complex, festooned with electronics and when (not if) you start doing repairs, there will be hell to pay, almost literally. There goes your inquiry about cost of spares: the answer is a lot.

You’d rather even ask about fuel economy, which is surprisingly good for vehicles this big and this heavy, with six-cylinder engines that capacious.

The air-versus-metal argument as far as landing gear goes swings in different directions. Air suspension is good for ride quality and is a key player in the secret to the Discovery’s outstanding off-road performance.

It is, however, less than ideal from a maintenance perspective where the regular springs-and-shocks set-up trounces it in pocket-friendliness.

Seeing you asked about cost of spares, you are best advised to stick to the base models of these cars (the Discovery in XS trim — an ironical tag if ever there was one; the least kitted model being called the “excess”).

I have no idea how remote your village is but I seriously doubt you’ll make full use of the Discovery’s overachieving CV just to get there.

Perhaps the ML (later called the GLE) is good enough? Don’t be fooled by its shared genetics with the Jeep Grand Cherokee; the German has nowhere near the American’s off-road chops.

It is a mall-crawling, suburban-haunting, status-showing, tarmac-loving high-priced delivery van for the progenies of those fortunate enough to be born in well-to-do dynasties. It is not meant for the clag.

So, how to split them? The Discovery is more handsome and looks the part. It is also extremely capable, but it comes at a price. However, reliability is not in your destiny.

The ML sports the three-pointed star which is enough to let the Great Unwashed know that you can own them and their families in a moment of omnipotent whimsy should the fancy take you. It all boils down to taste but my own preference would be the Discovery. It has a brutish charm about it that cannot be replicated.

If you want to correct the light problem, have your car diagnosed

My Toyota Noah, 2003 model with 1AZ engine, started showing the check engine light when I knocked the fuel tank on a projected rock but after repair, it disappeared.

Due to overheating, the engine got spoilt and I replaced it with an ex Japan engine in good condition. I recently hit the car on an irregular bump and the light appeared on the dashboard again. However, there is no visible fuel leak in the fuel tank.

This light comes on after 10-20 minutes of driving. I don’t feel like taking the car for code diagnosis because I think it could be the fuel tank and not the catalytic converter, mass flow sensor, or oxygen sensor. What do you think?

Engine light.

Engine light. PHOTO| FILE

First, stop knocking the underside of your car on random objects. Check engine light means “attach OBD scanner, extract codes, decipher said codes”.

No two ways about it. Guesswork in motor vehicle repair is what leads to despair down the road when you buy unnecessary spares and symptoms persist.

Guessing what a CEL is about is the same as self-medicating with no medical knowledge whatsoever; not only are you unlikely to cure the problem, you run the risk of making things worse.

Man up and get the diagnosis done. Then proceed from there.



Sordid tale of the bank ‘that would bribe God’




Bank of Credit and Commerce International. August 1991. [File, Standard]

“This bank would bribe God.” These words of a former employee of the disgraced Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) sum up one of the most rotten global financial institutions.
BCCI pitched itself as a top bank for the Third World, but its spectacular collapse would reveal a web of transnational corruption and a playground for dictators, drug lords and terrorists.
It was one of the largest banks cutting across 69 countries and its aftermath would cause despair to innocent depositors, including Kenyans.
BCCI, which had $20 billion (Sh2.1 trillion in today’s exchange rate) assets globally, was revealed to have lost more than its entire capital.
The bank was founded in 1972 by the crafty Pakistani banker Agha Hasan Abedi.
He was loved in his homeland for his charitable acts but would go on to break every rule known to God and man.
In 1991, the Bank of England (BoE) froze its assets, citing large-scale fraud running for several years. This would see the bank cease operations in multiple countries. The Luxembourg-based BCCI was 77 per cent owned by the Gulf Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  
BoE investigations had unearthed laundering of drugs money, terrorism financing and the bank boasted of having high-profile customers such as Panama’s former strongman Manual Noriega as customers.
The Standard, quoting “highly placed” sources reported that Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Zayed Sultan would act as guarantor to protect the savings of Kenyan depositors.
The bank had five branches countrywide and panic had gripped depositors on the state of their money.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would then move to appoint a manager to oversee the operations of the BCCI operations in Kenya.
It sent statements assuring depositors that their money was safe.
The Standard reported that the Sheikh would be approaching the Kenyan and other regional subsidiaries of the bank to urge them to maintain operations and assure them of his personal support.
It was said that contact between CBK and Abu Dhabi was “likely.”
This came as the British Ambassador to the UAE Graham Burton implored the gulf state to help compensate Britons, and the Indian government also took similar steps.
The collapse of BCCI was, however, not expect to badly hit the Kenyan banking system. This was during the sleazy 1990s when Kenya’s banking system was badly tested. It was the era of high graft and “political banks,” where the institutions fraudulently lent to firms belonging or connected to politicians, who were sometimes also shareholders.
And even though the impact was expected to be minimal, it was projected that a significant number of depositors would transfer funds from Asian and Arab banks to other local institutions.
“Confidence in Arab banking has taken a serious knock,” the “highly placed” source told The Standard.
BCCI didn’t go down without a fight. It accused the British government of a conspiracy to bring down the Pakistani-run bank.  The Sheikh was said to be furious and would later engage in a protracted legal battle with the British.
“It looks to us like a Western plot to eliminate a successful Muslim-run Third World Bank. We know that it often acted unethically. But that is no excuse for putting it out of business, especially as the Sultan of Abu Dhabi had agreed to a restructuring plan,” said a spokesperson for British Asians.
A CBK statement signed by then-Deputy Governor Wanjohi Murithi said it was keenly monitoring affairs of the mother bank and would go to lengths to protect Kenyan depositors.
“In this respect, the CBK has sought and obtained the assurance of the branch’s management that the interests of depositors are not put at risk by the difficulties facing the parent company and that the bank will meet any withdrawal instructions by depositors in the normal course of business,” said Mr Murithi.
CBK added that it had maintained surveillance of the local branch and was satisfied with its solvency and liquidity.
This was meant to stop Kenyans from making panic withdrawals.
For instance, armed policemen would be deployed at the bank’s Nairobi branch on Koinange Street after the bank had announced it would shut its Kenyan operations.
In Britain, thousands of businesses owned by British Asians were on the verge of financial ruin following the closure of BCCI.
Their firms held almost half of the 120,000 bank accounts registered with BCCI in Britain. 
The African Development Bank was also not spared from this mess, with the bulk of its funds deposited and BCCI and stood to lose every coin.
Criminal culture
In Britain, local authorities from Scotland to the Channel Islands are said to have lost over £100 million (Sh15.2 billion in today’s exchange rate).
The biggest puzzle remained how BCCI was allowed by BoE and other monetary regulation authorities globally to reach such levels of fraudulence.
This was despite the bank being under tight watch owing to the conviction of some of its executives on narcotics laundering charges in the US.
Coast politician, the late Shariff Nassir, would claim that five primary schools in Mombasa lost nearly Sh1 million and appealed to then Education Minister George Saitoti to help recover the savings. Then BoE Governor Robin Leigh-Pemberton condemned it as so deeply immersed in fraud that rescue or recovery – at least in Britain – was out of the question.
“The culture of the bank is criminal,” he said. The bank was revealed to have targeted the Third World and had created several “institutional devices” to promote its operations in developing countries.
These included the Third World Foundation for Social and Economic Studies, a British-registered charity.
“It allowed it to cultivate high-level contacts among international statesmen,” reported The Observer, a British newspaper.
BCCI also arranged an annual Third World lecture and a Third World prize endowment fund of about $10 million (Sh1 billion in today’s exchange rate).
Winners of the annual prize had included Nelson Mandela (1985), sir Bob Geldof (1986) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1989).
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Monitor water pumps remotely via your phone

Tracking and monitoring motor vehicles is not new to Kenyans. Competition to install affordable tracking devices is fierce but essential for fleet managers who receive reports online and track vehicles from the comfort of their desk.

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Agricultural Development Corporation Chief Accountant Gerald Karuga on the Spot Over Fraud –




Gerald Karuga, the acting chief accountant at the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC), is on the spot over fraud in land dealings.

ADC was established in 1965 through an Act of Parliament Cap 346 to facilitate the land transfer programme from European settlers to locals after Kenya gained independence.

Karuga is under fire for allegedly aiding a former powerful permanent secretary in the KANU era Benjamin Kipkulei to deprive ADC beneficiaries of their land in Naivasha.

Kahawa Tungu understands that the aggrieved parties continue to protest the injustice and are now asking the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe Karuga.

A source who spoke to Weekly Citizen publication revealed that Managing Director Mohammed Dulle is also involved in the mess at ADC.

Read: Ministry of Agriculture Apologizes After Sending Out Tweets Portraying the President in bad light

Dulle is accused of sidelining a section of staffers in the parastatal.

The sources at ADC intimated that Karuga has been placed strategically at ADC to safeguard interests of many people who acquired the corporations’ land as “donations” from former President Daniel Arap Moi.

Despite working at ADC for many years Karuga has never been transferred, a trend that has raised eyebrows.

“Karuga has worked here for more than 30 years and unlike other senior officers in other parastatals who are transferred after promotion or moved to different ministries, for him, he has stuck here for all these years and we highly suspect that he is aiding people who were dished out with big chunks of land belonging to the corporation in different parts of the country,” said the source.

In the case of Karuga safeguarding Kipkulei’s interests, workers at the parastatals and the victims who claim to have lost their land in Naivasha revealed that during the Moi regime some senior officials used dubious means to register people as beneficiaries of land without their knowledge and later on colluded with rogue land officials at the Ministry of Lands to acquire title deeds in their names instead of those of the benefactors.

Read Also: Galana Kulalu Irrigation Scheme To Undergo Viability Test Before Being Privatised


“We have information that Karuga has benefitted much from Kipkulei through helping him and this can be proved by the fact that since the matter of the Naivasha land began, he has been seen changing and buying high-end vehicles that many people of his rank in government can’t afford to buy or maintain,” the source added.

“He is even building a big apartment for rent in Ruiru town.”

The wealthy officer is valued at over Sh1.5 billion in prime properties and real estate.

Last month, more than 100 squatters caused scenes in Naivasha after raiding a private firm owned by Kipkulei.

The squatters, who claimed to have lived on the land for more than 40 years, were protesting take over of the land by a private developer who had allegedly bought the land from the former PS.

They pulled down a three-kilometre fence that the private developed had erected.

The squatters claimed that the former PS had not informed them that he had sold the land and that the developer was spraying harmful chemicals on the grass affecting their livestock and homes built on a section of the land.

Read Also: DP Ruto Wants NCPB And Other Agricultural Bodies Merged For Efficiency

Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner Kisilu Mutua later issued a statement warning the squatters against encroaching on Kipkuleir’s land.

“They are illegally invading private land. We shall not allow the rule of the jungle to take root,” warned Mutua.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee recently demanded to know identities of 10 faceless people who grabbed 30,350 acres of land belonging to the parastatal, exposing the rot at the corporation.

ADC Chairman Nick Salat, who doubles up as the KANU party Secretary-General, denied knowledge of the individuals and has asked DCI to probe the matter.

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William Ruto eyes Raila Odinga Nyanza backyard




Deputy President William Ruto will next month take his ‘hustler nation’ campaigns to his main rival, ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard, in an escalation of the 2022 General Election competition.

Acrimonious fall-out

Development agenda

Won’t bear fruit

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