Three police pilots and three technicians have quit the National Police Service air wing for greener pastures over new changes.
The pilots and technicians have joined a private company in Kiev, Ukraine, leaving their former employer in limbo.
The officers disagreed with the management of the police air wing and the new bosses from the military on the way forward after the unit was put under the Kenya Defence Forces.
Insiders said the departure is a blow to the service because millions had been spent to train and sustain them.
“They were some of the few helicopter pilots and technicians we had who could handle the Mi17 choppers. They are advantaged because they can speak in English,” said an official aware of the developments there.
The disagreements have come out after the heads of the new National Air Support Department, which was launched last December, made demands to the police.
Among others, they want to paint the police choppers in new colours and change the leadership structure.
Police have apparently resisted this move and demanded to be shown an executive order that has allowed the move.
Both Inspector General of Police Hilary Mutyambai’s office and that of Chief of Defence Forces Gen Robert Kibochi refused to comment on the matter.
Seven months after the President commissioned the new department, there is no official executive order as promised to give a clear guidelines on how to run the outfit.
This has thrown the police air wing and other agencies, which were put under the department, into confusion.
For instance, no one knows who is supposed to provide funds for training, fuelling the fleet and other operations. This has affected operations.
There are fears more personnel will leave over the confusion.
In December 2020, President Uhuru Kenyatta presided over the official handover to the military the management of government civilian-owned planes in the country.
He later launched NASD at Wilson Airport in Nairobi.
NASD is a multi-agency unit created to consolidate and ensure efficient utilisation of national aviation assets.
The President emphasised on the NASD mandate to provide a centralised management of national aviation assets for optimal utilisation, management and serviceability of air assets IOT enhance safety, swift response and quality of aviation services in line with the various stakeholders’ core mandates.
He regretted that in the past, lack of proper maintenance of aviation equipment within the national civilian air fleet has brought tragedies to the nation claiming lives of citizens including those of prominent leaders.
He said it was due to such challenges that the government decided to adopt a coordinated approach in the management of the country’s aviation assets.
“Indeed, the result of this approach has been poor manning, and state of aircraft serviceability in each of the individual government departments. In some cases, departments had more air assets, with less manpower while others had more manpower with fewer assets and others had low serviceability rates,” the President said.
He said the inauguration of NASD signals a new era in the management of the country’s aviation assets, one which promises greater safety, efficiency and quality, and challenged the department’s leadership to work hard to become the benchmark for other government agencies.
He assured NASD leadership of the government’s support, noting that they will be allocated adequate financial resources to modernise and put back to service grounded aircraft.
Gen Kibochi reiterated the need to synergise government aviation cooperation through streamlined and standardised operations and maintenance standards for efficient service delivery.
The department comprises key government ministries, departments and agencies such as KDF, Kenya Police Air Wing, Kenya Electricity Transmission Company, Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Forest Service, Kenya Pipeline Company.
Brig Chrispin Odhiambo of the Kenya Air Force and formerly of the National Defence College is the new commandant of the outfit.
-Edited by SKanyara