Nearly two years after a police helicopter crashed at the National Youth Service institute in Nairobi, there is no report to show the cause of the accident as required by public finance management regulations.
The Sh2.3 billion twin-turbine engine helicopter was flying over Mathare slums on September 8, 2016 when it crashed at the NYS facility in Ruaraka leaving three police officers and an engineer with serious injuries.
Auditor-General Edward Ouko’s report for the financial year 2015/16 says that the Italy-made AugustaWestland AW139 5Y- NPS helicopter was registered on April 26, 2016 but was badly damaged in the crash, four months later.
The head of Kenya Police Air Wing Rodgers Mbithi told the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly, which is scrutinising the audited accounts of the Interior ministry for the year under review, that it took less than ten seconds before the chopper was down.
The committee is chaired by Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi.
Sources within the police say a technical failure may have caused the accident, raising concerns that the government could have bought a faulty aircraft.
The crash happened at a time the aircraft should have been under warranty. It was also not insured at the time of the accident, meaning that the government cannot be compensated for the loss.
Mr Ouko says that in the absence of the accident report, it is not possible to categorise the loss of the chopper in terms of natural cause or pilot’s error, the basis upon which the loss could be recovered.
However, Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho, while appearing before the watchdog committee on Friday, said investigations are still ongoing to determine whether the accident was a pilot, mechanical or technical error.
He also defended the purchase of the aircraft but did not avail tendering and contract documents, the basis for the auditor-general’s opinion, saying that it was classified.
“The helicopter had not been insured at the time of the accident as all other helicopters belonging to the police,” Mr Kibicho told the committee.
Although Mr Kibicho admitted that it will require huge budgetary outlays to finance the insurance, he said all police aircraft will be insured going forward as it is mandatory. He, however, added a rider: “If funds become available.”
When one gets injured or dies while using uninsured State aircraft, the government compensates. You only need to register your complaint with the Attorney General.
Amani National Congress party leader Musalia Mudavadi claims that the failure to insure the helicopter could have been a calculated move to plunder public resources.
“The looting is so brazen. A helicopter is acquired so expensively, flown around without insurance and immediately crashes. Was it a plan to avoid audit queries? This is a matter that the MPs should determine if they mean well for Kenya,” Mr Mudavadi said.