NAIROBI, Kenya, May 19 – The government has denied reports that it spent Sh100 million in hiring a private jet for Deputy President William Ruto to use on his four African nation tour.
In a statement read by the Communication Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo, the government also stated that the jet was hired on a one-off basis and not for a year.
“There is no contract of one-year lease between Kenya and VistaJet, as the story purports. The plane was hired on a one-off basis at a cost of Sh18.5 million. This figure is in fact less than that quoted by local companies, which was sh19 million. Those interested can confirm with the company,” the statement reads.
Ndemo went on to say that the Sh18.5 million hire instead saved the country money as it would have cost more for the Deputy President and those who accompanied him to use an airliner.
“This 18.5 million, if you take all the senior officials he travelled with and use the commercial flights, it would cost even more because some of the countries do not have flights in between them. To go to Congo Brazzaville and to Gabon then direct to Nigeria usually there are no connecting links. Sometimes you have got to go to Europe and come back,” Ndemo said.
Ndemo added that the decision to use a VistaJet was arrived at through a competitive process and no additional costs were incurred on account of the Deputy President being an invited guest of the four countries he visited.
“The Deputy President was a State guest to the countries and did not therefore spend any of the taxpayers’ funds,” the government statement reads.
The Deputy President departed for Congo Brazzaville on Thursday where he met with the Head of State Denis Sassou Nguesso before heading to Gabon where he met with President Ali Bongo.
Nigeria was next on the Deputy President’s itinerary where he also met with President Jonathan Goodluck and was to return to the country on Sunday night after a visit to Algeria.
Ndemo said the visit was critical to the government’s economic and security agenda especially as regards Somalia where Ruto has called for additional AMISOM forces.
“Next week we have the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa. African leaders are talking about a Rapid Deployment Unit in order to avoid a crisis like that which occurred in Somalia.”