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The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism is waiting for two helicopters.
That will raise the ministry’s air fleet to 13.
The Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Thato Raphaka confirmed that two helicopters are expected to be delivered before the end of this year.
Raphaka was responding to The Telegraph queries following unconfirmed reports that some of their aircraft had been grounded.
As the debate about the ministry’s decision to procure the luxurious aircraft called Beechcraft Air King 350 continues to rage, there are even claims that Minister Tshekedi Khama no longer uses it.
But Raphaka explained that none of the Ministry’s aircraft was been grounded adding that minister Khama and other officials continue to use the aircraft.
“The Honourable Minister and other officials in the Ministry continue to use the aircraft efficiency in carrying out the Ministry mandate. This gesture is also extended to other Ministries as and when they request,” he said.
For the first time Raphaka revealed that “The Ministry currently has 11 aircraft and none of them are a jet. The fleet is made up of Beechcraft, Cessna, Jibiru, Kodiak and helicopters.”
In the past, the Ministry has been reluctant to share with members of the public how many aircraft it has claiming that such information could compromise national security.
“The Ministry has 11 aircraft with two more helicopters expected before the end of the year,” said Raphaka.
Unconfirmed reports were rife recently that the government had instructed the Ministry to ground some of its planes.
“All aircraft are used for official purposes and none of the Ministry’s aircraft has been grounded. Out of the 11 aircraft, two helicopters and a Cessna are currently not being used as they are awaiting maintenance,” said Raphaka.
The Ministry had requested for over P41 million emergency-funding to buy three (3) used helicopters to monitor elephants’ movement.
In his request Minister Khama said there has been an influx of elephants in the country, which has caused problems.
“The world is busy praising us for having a large number of elephants but they are not assisting us with the problems. We would have to at some point ask the world to assist us”, he said.