The police force has completed refurbishment of a helicopter that has been grounded for over 15 years, the Nile Post has learnt.
According to Barak Orland, the Managing Director for Yamasec Security Limited, the company that did the refurbishment, the former Inspector General of Police, Gen.Kale Kayihura wanted the chopper written off but was persuaded not to take that step.
“The former IGP wanted to sell it because it was on ground for over 10 years but we told him it could be fixed and given to police fully functioning,”Orland said during the function to hand the chopper to the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Brig. Muzeeyi Sabiti on behalf of Okoth Ochola.
However, according to Col. Ham Kaija, the commandant Police Air wing, guidance led to the refurbishment of the chopper up to the stage of resuming flights.
“In 2013, strategic guidance triggered a deliberate effort to facilitate the resumption of the long ranger helicopter back to the air,”Col.Kaija said.
Speaking at the function, Brig.Sabiti applauded government for assisting the force in their efforts to ensure law and order in the country with such force multipliers but noted more support is needed to make the force up to the required standards.
The Deputy Inspector General of Police welcomed the idea of ensuring the force’s equipment are maintained to match the world standards.
“Such a helicopter can be a good force multiplier because it can easily maneuver and cover a big area in a short time. We can improve it by installing new items like cameras and search lights so that it can do a number of things,”Brig.Muzeeyi said.
He however implored the police air wing commandant to ensure continuous research and development so that the police department can match the latest standards.
The police air wing commandant, Col. Kaija described the chopper as an additional force multiplier to the force’s fleet size.
“Its return to air forms a backup when because it is a dependable asset for proficiency flight training among other benefits it potentially embodies,”Col.Kaija noted.
The BELL 206B is a seven seater chopper made in the US.
Fails to fly
There was panic for over 20 minutes when refurbished chopper failed to undergo a test fly with Brig.Muzeyi, AIGP Asuman Mugenyi, Col.Kaija on board.
The helicopter on more than two occasions failed to start prompting engineers to rush to fix the problem until it later hovered over the skies .
It made a number of rounds all over the Kampala skies until it finally landed at Kanjjansi.
According to police spokesperson Emilian Kayima, the police air wing currently has three aircrafts including a Sokoi(14 seater) and two 107 SP each being a seven seater chopper.
“They help in transport, rescue missions and surveillance and they go a long way in enabling the police deliver on her mandate,”Kayima said.
He noted that the police air wing will soon shift from Kajjansi airfield where they are renting to Kimaka airfield.
Currently, the police air wing has nine pilots but according to officials, they need more of these.