Deputy Minister of Information, Baba Jamal, has sought to clarify the hullabaloo surrounding the decision by the Mills-Mahama administration to purchase five new jets at a cost of Euro 71 million and $105,370, 177.09
According to him, apart from the military using the aircrafts for training, it will aid in effecting the arrest of armed robbers.
The deputy Minister expounded that out of the five planes, there was only one commercial flight which the Military has requested specifically to be loaned to the United Nations for peacekeeping operations. “That aircraft,” he said, “is a 100-seater flight”.
“The Casa 295 will be used to train military personnel and for countrywide surveillance, especially in areas where it is difficult to access during disasters and accidents since those planes could be deployed almost everywhere…Two other planes will also be used to patrol the seas to protect the country’s oil from the activities of pirates,” he explained.
He argued that just as the government was trying to equip public institutions like the Fire Service with fire tenders and the Police Service with patrol vehicles, the government was also trying to equip the Military with the needed logistics to facilitate their work, adding that the aircraft can drop off soldiers via parachute at vantage points in the event of a life-threatening situation.
The Minority in Parliament, led by Hon Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, on Wednesday questioned the propriety of the Mills’ administration to purchase five aircrafts for the Presidency and the military, arguing that their purchase could have an adverse effect on the economy.
The Minority also thinks the sums quoted for the aircraft have been inflated by government. But the Majority in parliament mounted a solid defence for its planned purchase of the five jets – an Embraer E 190 jet with a hanger costing $105,370, 177.09, two BA 42 Guardian Surveillance costing €11 million and another two CT95 aircraft costing €60 million.
Speaking in an interview with Kwami Sefa Kayi on Peace FM’s Kokrokoo Morning Show, Baba Jamal defended government’s decision to acquire these new aircraft and maintained that the order for the aircraft does not include a presidential jet for use by the executive – neither the president nor his ministers.
“We always grapple with issues of accidents and there are no ambulances to rush them to the hospital but one of the flights contain about six stretchers similar to an ambulance which can help convey accident victims to hospitals when the need arises…also the military will use it to guard…our oil fields. There are also cases of armed robbers blocking roads to steal from passengers and the flight is one of the easiest ways to save lives and arrest these armed robbers…When you go to America, this is what they use to protect their citizens so Ghanaians should cease associating President Mills’ with the purchase because this is a normal military request,” he explained.