President Uhuru Kenyatta has inaugurated the National Air Support Department (NASD), a multi-agency unit within the Ministry of Defence charged with the responsibility of coordinating Kenya’s national air response services.
Speaking to NASD staff at its Wilson Airport headquarters Thursday, the President said the entity which brings together all Government air assets will enhance efficiency in the delivery of aviation services.
“The National Air Support Department is a multi-agency approach to service delivery that we, as a Government have adopted.
“This reform initiative was necessitated by the compelling need to foster effectiveness in the management of the national aviation assets; with a view to optimizing safety, efficiency and improved availability of aircraft,” the President said.
NASD has created a fleet of 36 aircraft manned by 273 personnel by merging the National Police Air Wing, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (KETRACO) and the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) among others.
The President pointed out that the proficiencies from both the military and Government civilian aviators will be a great asset to the department as it would not only help in generating revenue to supplement public funding but also promote aviation safety and reliability across Kenya and the region.
“The capabilities and wealth of experience within National Air Space Department will not only benefit Government, but, by providing aircraft and equipment maintenance services to private sector aircraft operators, NASD will promote aviation safety and reliability across Kenya and the region; with the added benefit of generating revenue to supplement public funding,” President Kenyatta said.
The Head of State 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 that it was due to such challenges that the Government decided to adopt a coordinated approach in the management of the country’s aviation assets.
“In the past, utilization of national air assets has been managed in an uncoordinated manner, leading to inefficient training, un-optimal utilization and maintenance of air assets and air-related facilities.
“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; Others had very low serviceability rates,” the President said.
President Kenyatta 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 modernize and put back to service grounded aircrafts.
“On our part, my Administration stands ready to; always provide the necessary support, infrastructure, equipment and training required for the smooth operation of the Department,” the President assured.
Defence CS Dr Monica Juma and Chief of Defence Forces General Robert Kibochi spoke at the NASD inauguration event attended by several senior Government officials among them Head of Public Service Dr Joseph Kinyua.