Thousands of cars rotting away in police stations across the central region will be auctioned following a directive from the Interior ministry.
The auction is expected to be conducted countrywide and police stations in central Kenya have already started collecting inventories on unclaimed vehicles in exhibit yards which could be sold off in a year.
Last week, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i announced that an administrative forfeiture is in the offing, giving owners of vehicles in police stations six months to claim them.
The legal exercise is already ongoing in Nyeri where police have started preparing records of the thousands of unclaimed vehicles.
Nyeri County Police Commander Ali Nuno confirmed the plans, saying that the auction is meant to clean up police stations by clearing unclaimed items.
This will also affect lost and found items as well as exhibits whose cases have been cleared in court and closed.
“It is a normal clean-up exercise and we are already collecting an inventory on the items. The exercise is at an advanced stage. We are going back to our records on how these items ended up here and the progress of cases related to them,” Mr Nuno said.
A spot check around police stations in Nyeri County revealed that hundreds of vehicles have over years reduced to rusty metal shells with nobody to claim them.
While most of them are road crash wreckages a big chunk was impounded for involvement in crimes ranging from robberies, murder and trafficking illegal and contraband goods.
Those involved in crime are treated as exhibits.
Most of those tied to criminal cases have already been cleared after the cases were concluded in court.
But some are still tied to unresolved matters dating as far back as 1999 while others lack records of cases tied to them.
According to police, those tied to ongoing matters cannot be released for auction until the cases are resolved.
A notable case is of Toyota station wagon car which has been lying at the Nyeri Central Police Station since 2008 with links to a robbery case which is yet to be resolved.
Road crash wrecks take up most of the space and the pile up is blamed on either the owners never claim them or insurance companies paid for the damage and never bothered to collect them.
“Sometime people claim from insurers and forget about the wrecks. Some of the companies never bother to pick up the damaged vehicles,” Mr Nuno explained.
The National Police Service Act gives police powers to auction such vehicles but have to get consent and directions from a magistrate.
Legally, police are required to present an inventory of the property before court seeking orders to advertise the items as unclaimed and calling on the owners to claim them.
Once granted orders to advertise the items for sale, notices describing the items should be posted in public places giving owners one year to claim them through the same court.
“The notice shall describe the property and require any person who may have a claim thereto to appear before the magistrate or other person specified therein and establish their claim within twelve months from the date of the notice,” the National Police Service Act states.
If unclaimed, the magistrate will direct the vehicles be auctioned and the money put into a consolidated fund.
Perishable unclaimed goods or those subject to a court case can be auctioned immediately pending determination.
On the other hand, the inspector-general of police has the mandate to decide how unclaimed firearms and ammunition should be disposed.