By Kibwage Makori
WHY IS THE PRESIDENT AFRAID OF USING HIS PRIVATE JET?
Last week when the President was travelling to Eritrea/DRC he didn’t use his official jet. Ever since President Uhuru Kenyatta got into office into office in 2013, he has never travelled to any African country with a chartered Kenya Airways plane. Before getting into details let’s first dissect the implication of this.
The President uses a modified Fokker 70 ER jet which serves as both a travelling vessel and an office. This means that if the President wants to have a highly secretive meeting with someone or military chiefs, he will just walk out of his Harambee office and head to his plane thus do his thing while moving around the clouds for hours. This plane is supposed to carry 85 passengers but is customised to carry only 26 passengers. This is done so as to give the head of state all the comfort he needs while flying and also owing to the fact that it serves as an office something which commercial planes like the one he used last week can’t offer.
Apart from being a prestigious plane, there are also other features that it’s fitted with that no other plane can have. Much of it’s cabin space is modified to offer enough space for fuel that can allow it to remain airborne for a number of hours without refueling. Airforce One which is used as the standard reference has the ability to remain airborne indefinitely because it can be refuelled midair.
Just as I said earlier, the plane serves as an office for the head of state and incase of anything it serves as a safe haven for him and this is where the issue of fuel comes in. It’s technical and cabin crew are exclusively trained in Netherlands, a place where the plane was acquired. We know most machines are operated/repaired by consulting the manufacturer’s manual, but in this one it’s the manufacturer who offers a one on one training to this crew negating chances of the plane being sent back to Netherlands for repair. This ensures that the safety of our head of state does not fall on the hands of another foreign country. I am not trying to downplay the abilities of our ordinary Kenyan pilots but all am saying is that even drivers of VIPs are given special training that we call defensive training. This allows them to ensure that the boss is save incase of an emergency.
I’m also not trying to sound like a conformist or a perfectionist but trust me this are all the details that guide the Presidential security team in choosing the President’s means of transport. Simple logic dictates that they cannot chose a chartered commercial flight for the President when Harambee one is there resting.
Word has it that the last time Harambee one was seen is when it was about to take the President back to Nairobi from Kisumu when the unexpected happened. The engine was up and running and senior government officials were seeing off the President alongside the Rt Hon Raila Odinga, when it was Raila’s turn to greet and bid him goodbye he pulled him aside and they vanished into the streets of Kisumu without security and no explanation of what conspired/followed from there is given. We heard that the President returned to Raila’s Bondo home and spent the night there before travelling to Mombasa the following day aboard Raila’s new AU jet. He appointed Matiang’i as the Chief Minister later that day, prompting Ruto to fly to Mombasa the following day to seek answers about the appointment.
So why is the Head of state not using his official jet and what conspired that evening in Kisumu?