Authority denies approving chopper
| August 8th 2012
BY MOSES NJAGIH
The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) has denied ever making technical recommendations to the Police Department on the choice of a helicopter.
It emerged On Tuesday that the Police Department misled former Internal Security PS Francis Kimemia after KCAA Director for Aviation, Safety Standards and Regulations Joe Mutungi denied making a recommendation for the purchase of either a Eurocopter or Bell model chopper.
Mutungi told the commission of inquiry into the police chopper crash in Ngong that contrary to the statement in a letter from the Chief Finance Officer at the Police Headquarters J M Wambugu to Kimemia, the aviation industry regulator did not make a recommendation to the police.
In a letter dated November 20, 2010, Wambugu told Kimemia the decision by the police to opt for a restricted tender system to choose between the two aircraft manufacturers was based on the recommendation of KCAA.
Wambugu defended this position two weeks ago when he appeared before the commission investigating the Ngong crash that killed former Internal Security Minister George Saitoti, his assistant Orwa Ojode and four others where he tabled the confidential letter to the then PS.
But the letter also elicited some controversy after it emerged it was dated November 20, 2010, while it made reference to communication made on December 16, 2010.
Through the letter, the police sought authority from the PS to commence procurement process.
On Tuesday, Mutungi said police had only sought to know from him widely used choppers but not on their performance and maintenance as the letter to Kimemia indicated.
“I did not give any technical recommendation as claimed in the letter, and neither did the police indicate to me that they were going for a restricted tender system,” said the witness when he was cross-examined by Mr Fred Ngatia, representing the family of the late George Saitoti.
It also emerged that upon its purchase, the ill-fated chopper was registered with the KCAA as a commercial chopper and not a State aircraft.
Mutungi said it was not clear why the police had registered the aircraft as commercial, when it was in the category of a State chopper, which are not regulated by the KCAA.
But the lawyer representing the Police Department Evans Monari told the commission that while police choppers are not regulated by the KCAA, they have gazetted rules, which guide their operations.
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