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Time to audit safety of KDF, police aircraft

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2024 06:00 | By
Members of the Kenya Defence Forces carry the casket bearing the body of CDF General Ogolla at Ulinzi Sports Complex in Lang'ata. PHOTO/Adan Duale (@HonAdenDuale)/X
Members of the Kenya Defence Forces carry the casket bearing the body of CDF General Ogolla at Ulinzi Sports Complex in Lang'ata. PHOTO/Adan Duale (@HonAdenDuale)/X

With the dust settled on the death of the Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) General Ogolla, the government should now get in motion and audit Kenya’s airspace that appears to be snowballing into a dangerous place.

The incident in which General Ogolla and ten others perished in last Thursday’s crash was the fifth accident to hit the forces within a span of one year. This is quite baffling by any standards.

According to the Aviation Safety Network, the Kenya Air Force has lost 12 aircraft since 2012, while the National Police Air Wing has suffered five losses. The situation calls for a thorough review of the airworthiness of State-owned aircraft.

The frequency of these incidents, especially considering the significant number involving a single operator (KDF) within a short span, has raised concerns within the aviation industry.

Four years ago, the government transferred the management of civilian-owned aircraft to the military, leading to the establishment of the National Air Support Department at Wilson Airport, in what then President Uhuru Kenyatta said was meant to enhance efficiency in delivery of services.

The consensus at that time was that the initiative would foster effectiveness in the management of the national aviation assets, with a view to optimize on safety, efficiency and improved availability of aircraft.

Fingers have been pointed at serviceability and pilot fatigue. There have also been questions over the increased operational tempo and repurposing of military helicopters for VIP transportation, with most politicians allied to the Kenya Kwanza administration being said to have direct access to military choppers.

There are also questions on how often the Kenyan government has been replacing KDF aircraft and whether the issue of their longevity is strictly adhered to.

Though the high number of plane crashes seems to have hit government-owned entities hardest, concerns continue to rise on general air safety, like in the recent case when two aircrafts collided mid-air at Wilson Airport, leaving a student and his instructor dead.

Time is now for the government to address this worrisome trend that not exposes the lives of military officers, government officials and politicians who frequently use these planes, but also members of the public.

The fact that such high ranking official, no less a general, could die in a such manner is a disturbing indication that no one is safe.

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