Thursday, July 18, 2024

Purchase of Wildlife aircraft was in order – PAC told

The purchase of the multi-million Pula Beech aircraft the Department of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism bought recently went through proper procurement and it is conducting day to day animal poaching and other activities across the country and meeting the Ministry’s standard operations quite satisfactorily as required.

The Beech aircraft is normally used for corporate businesses attracting the curious attention of Public Accounts Committee member Ndaba Gaolathe who doubted on Friday the suitability and its usage on animal life let alone difficult impenetrable environment because of its lucrative glitzy make and design.

Refuted the Permanent Secretary with the Ministry Rule Jimmy Opelo: “The aircraft was properly procured and purchased solely to carry out day to day routine activities of the management and perfectly carry the operations quite satisfactorily.”

“The activities include attending animal problem, carrying equipments by veterinarians, assisting the workforce in the ground and emergencies such as fire outbreaks and accidents which are attended on time and promptly. Thus the procurement and purchase of the aircraft was effectively productive,” Opelo added.

“Every corporate aircraft (Beech) is used for the procurement deemed useful (by users and owners). We purchased the aircraft as such with a purpose and reason. The same aircraft attends demanding problems covering areas such as Kasane, Kachikau and Savuti across the country more quicker covering large areas even though it does not specifically carry or drop people on animal problem or emergencies.”

Instead of traversing long distances on a land-cruiser by road, the aircraft brings closer the animal problem and emergencies services as required by the Ministry on time and promptly, Opelo noted.

The Accounting Officer appeared before the PAC at which it was learnt the Department of Wildlife boasts of adequate means to perform almost all duties confronted including the thorny issue of poaching particularly amongst herds of elephants.

Besides the specialised Beech aircraft and eight other aircrafts, the Ministry also eight specialised vehicles to effectively perform their duties prompting another PAC member Reggie Reatile to automatically disqualify other security agents from requesting in the future supplementary budgets under the guise of wildlife protection activities.

Both the Botswana Defence Force and the infamous Directorate Intelligence Security Services overlap on duties around wildlife protection activities coming into colliding conflict at times.

Ranging from light single-engined aircraft to twin engine turboprop transports, business jets and military trainers, the Beech aircraft in question appears to have dug deep in the public coffers pockets but with a reasonable cause according to Opelo.

PAC conducts financial audits for the Ministries and Government Departments including management amongst others with the Ministry of Wildlife and Tourism not an exception this on-going session.


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