The other presidential jet in use
...The use of Fokker 28 to Germany; Did Prez Kufuor risk human lives?
Many Ghanaians know that President J.A. Kufuor recently flew to Germany and Italy by flying on a foreign aircraft as he has been doing since his assumption of office. It is the believe of Ghanaians that the President used foreign jets ‘to hop, step and jump’ with foreign owned airlines when he went to meet the German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
But what Ghanaians do not know is that our President used our presidential jet not the Gulfstream II but the Fokker 28. This is a plane that Mr. Osafo Maafo the Minister of Finance volunteered that an amount of $2.5 million or ¢17.5 billion was used to refurbish. He is quoted to have said that: “The refurbishment of the Fokker 28 presidential jet, otherwise known as the ‘Flying Coffin’ cost the state about $2.5 million or (¢17.5 billion).
It is currently in good condition, he told an Accra Daily Dispatch newspaper. Osafo Maafo also explained further that although he is yet to receive the final invoices the refurbishment is about $2.5 million but I am reliably informed that it is in a first class condition. In an answer to whether the New Patriotic Party Government will try to use it for long haul flights he laughed and said: “Oh no! we will not repeat other people’s mistakes.
Our usage will be guided by advice from the technicians, one being short haul flights” This is how Ghanaians know about the Fokker 28 presidential jet. So by Osafo Maafo’s postulations, there was no way the NPP government was going to use the improved quality presidential jet which ex-president Rawlings used when he was in office even in all his long-haul flights which even took him to the Pacific to the U.S. So when our sources in Germany phoned us that the rejected plane that was not supposed to be for long haul flights was making presidential trips in European capitals we thought we were not hearing right.
‘Flying Coffin” which refurbishment cost the nation ¢17.5 billion seen in Europe we could not believe our ears. We were informed that although the President went to Germany and came back on Lufthansa Flights the F 28 flew to Germany empty for the use of the President’s comfort and convenience. The mileage from Ghana to Germany is 3,168 miles one way. We have reproduced the technical details of the plane to help Ghanaians calculate how much fuel was quizzed on the trip. Not to think of the fees that were paid for the plane to fly over national borders, the fees to air-controllers which directs the height, the speed and the air corridors which the plane was supposed to use.
When “Ghanaian Voice” caught up with Mr. Kwabena Agyepong, the Government’s Spokesman, he said that, yes the “flying coffin’ really flew to Europe but did not fly empty and volunteered that the plane flew the advance party made up of Security men and Pressmen to Germany and Italy for official assignments. So we are asking why the President knew that the plane was not fit for long flights and yet allowed others to use?
Or was Osafo Maafo still waiting for advice from the technicians even in using the plane for short haul flights? Why should the F28 presidential jet indulgence in long haul flights from Africa? And why did the president avoid using the jet which we were told is not fit to be used for long haul flights? Why was it used for carrying of the advanced party when the plane left after the President had left this country?
Why was the lives of those on board the presidential jet risked? Even though we have no reason to doubt the explanation offered by the Deputy Spokesman, other sources even whispered in our ears that the Fokker 28, took off a few minutes after the Lufthansa flight carrying the President and his entourage had taken off. The people have the right to know. We shall come again.