State insists Ruto’s plane to West, Central Africa was hired for Sh18.5m


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Nairobi, Kenya: Deputy President William Ruto has rejected reports that the plane he hired for his trip to West and Central African countries cost taxpayers a whopping Sh100 million insisting that it cost Sh18.5 million.

In a response made through the Permanent Secretary for Information Bitange Ndemo, the DP said that the reports contained in a  local newspaper were inaccurate and designed to injure his reputation in the eyes of Kenyans.

The reports had suggested that the plane, by Vistajet, had been hired by the government for one year at Sh100 million.  Vistajet describes itself as the world’s premier luxury aviation company for private jet charter and private jet ownership.

Ndemo, who spoke in a Nairobi Hotel said that the Sh18.5 million was infact a bargain since  taking commercial flights to those countries would have consumed more money and time. He said the payment was a one-off for the trip insisting there was no one-year contract with Vistajet.

“There are no scheduled  or commercial flights connecting the capitals that the Deputy President and his delegation visited. A commercial flight would have cost  more because it would entail circuitous and torturous trips to European capitals  and back  just to pick up connecting flights,” he said.

He added: “The Deputy President was very conscious of this fact. That’s why he chose a chartered flight which is very cost-effective in comparison. The figure was much less than one quoted by local companies. Kenyans can confirm that for themselves.”

The PS explained that if Ruto was to travel to one country alone using a chartered flight,as his predecessors did, it would have cost at least Sh15 million. He said the Deputy President was accompanied by nine officials of his team.

He said that the flight was recommended on the basis of safety and security for the DP and because the company had been used by government officials before. He revealed that the same facility was hired for a similar trip costing Sh29 million.

He added  that there was no additional cost  that the DP incurred in those countries he visited since he was  a state guest there  in which all expenses for accommodation, meals and transport were taken care of by host countries.

“Kenya Airways has flights to most capitals in West and Central Africa but trips between the same capitals would have to go through Paris and other European capitals. In some places, it takes several days to catch a commercial flight out,” he said.

Ndemo said the deputy President’s trips to west and central African countries in line with the Jubilee government policy of prioritising political and economic ties with African countries. He added that the trip was essential ahead of an African Union summit in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa next week.

“The Head of state, President Uhuru Kenyatta has committed to a policy of intra-africa trade, contributing to regional stability, peace, security, and economic wellbeing among the nations of the continent. it is against this background that the President dispatched his Deputy  to carry out this brief that will also open up new diplomatic  contacts and frontiers,”

Ruto has visited Congo Brazzaville, Gabon, Nigeria, and Ghana where he met respective Heads of State where he has discussed, among other things, the proposal to have a African rapid response military force to intervene in conflicts in the continents before they spin out of control and lead to collapse of states.

‘The story is inaccurate, false, exaggerated, malicious and in bad faith and intended  to pursue interests that are narrow, selfish, and hardly beneficial to the country. It is disturbing that neither the DP nor any of his officers was afforded an opporyunity  to give his side of the story,” he said.

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