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Ruto defends Sh200m jet hire for US visit, says KQ could have cost more

 President William Ruto and First Lady Rachel arrive in Maryland, United States of America. [PCS]

President William Ruto has come to the defence of his mode of transport during his state visit to the United States of America last week where the government hired a jet from an Abu Dhabi-based company incurring more than Sh200 million.

Ruto who jetted back in the country Saturday night said he had noted the concerns of Kenyans and that the cost of the trip was cheaper compared to using the national carrier Kenya Airways.

“As a responsible steward of public resources and in keeping with my determination for us to live within our means and that I should lead from the front in so doing, the cost was less than travelling on Kenya Airways flight,” said Ruto on X platform.

COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli came to Ruto’s defence saying spending Sh200 million to hire a private jet to the USA was worthwhile considering that it takes 18 to 20 hours on a normal flight with several stopovers along the way.

Atwoli said it was laughable for anyone to suggest that the President should have travelled on a normal flight considering the significance of the trip. He said the president signed multiple agreements with US companies for business with Kenya worth trillions of shillings.

Jubilee Party Secretary General Jeremiah Kioni termed Ruto’s trip to the USA as wasteful. He said hiring a jet at Sh200 million to travel in luxury yet it was not the first time a Kenyan President was going to USA and that the late President Mwai Kibaki travelled on a commercial flight in 2003 was extravagant.

“This is the wastage that we have been talking about in this country. Remember this is not the first time a Kenyan President is travelling to the United States of America, President Uhuru Kenyatta travelled to the US while in office using a Kenya Airways flight,” said Kioni in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya wants a parliamentary inquiry into President William Ruto’s Sh200 million luxury flight to the US accusing the President of “wastage”, amid clarification by the US embassy in Nairobi that the host nation did not foot the bill for Ruto’s flight.

The President, who was on a five-day State visit to USA left the country last Sunday aboard Boeing Business Jet, a 737-700, hired from Abu Dhabi luxury private airline company Royal Jet Group. 

Senate Minority Leader Stewart Madzayo speaking on phone wondered why a country struggling with limited finances barely managing a flood crisis would afford such luxury for its Head of State. Madzayo said a special parliamentary committee should be set up to investigate the expenditures.

“It is disappointing that the Kenya Kwanza government can be this wasteful and insensitive to Kenyans” Said Madzayo and added “State House’s extravagance during the USA trip is a mockery of the President’s calls for austerity measures in government,”

Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua said the committee must not sanitise Ruto as it happened with ‘Hustler Jet’ fiasco in 2014.

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