Govt to buy guesthouses for visiting heads of state, diginitaries

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has requested for funds to finance the acquisition of houses to accommodate visiting presidents and VIPs.

Foreign Affairs CS Amb Raychelle Omamo. (https://twitter.com/ForeignOfficeKE)

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has requested for funds to finance the acquisition of houses to accommodate visiting presidents and VIPs.

According to the documents tabled in Parliament, Foreign Affairs CS Raychelle Omamo explained that the government intends to stem over-reliance on five-star hotels to host dignitaries in the country.

Past visiting heads of state have stayed at some of the most luxurious hotels in the city. In 2015. President Barrack Obama spent his nights at Villa Rosa Kempinski and Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu was hosted at the Nairobi Serena Hotel in 2021.

The Intercontinental Hotel in Nairobi which was shut down in 2020, had the biggest Presidential suite in the city with 2,340-square-feet.

This room has hosted US President Joe Biden when he was Obama’s Vice President and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton among other dignitaries.

The budget for the guesthouses and luxury vehicles was not disclosed in the plan tabled in Parliament for MPs to review.

The cost of presidential suites in Nairobi ranges from Sh500,000 per night to well over Sh1 million per night.

The ministry seeks to acquire suitable guesthouses for high-level dignitaries visiting the country. This will cut costs of hotel accommodation and ensure there is always availability of accommodation and reduce dependency on hotels," Foreign Affairs CS told Parliament in the documents.

This will deal five-star hotels a big blow since the government has used billions to host VVIPs and VIPs in the presidential suites.

The Ministry also intends to spend millions on high-end vehicles for VIP state guests' local transport.

"Further, the ministry intends to acquire protocol/ceremonial vehicles-Specifics for vehicles to include provision for flag pendants," Ms Omamo said.

The protocol cars will be stationed on the airside of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) for the transfer of VVIPS and VIPs from aircraft to lounges and protocol personnel during meet-and-greet duty.

"The ministry has a large fleet of old vehicles hence increased maintenance costs. In addition, unlike in other international airports, JKIA does not have protocol cars stationed within the tarmac area/airside to facilitate VVIPs and VIPs on arrival and departure (boarding and disembarking)," Omamo added.

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