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THE SAITOTI HELICOPTER CRASH, RESPONSIBLE COMMENT AND A WORD TO GABRIEL DOLAN

Crash scene in which Prof Saitoti, Orwa Ojodeh, their two bodyguards and the two pilots in charge of the flight, died on June 10 - The official investigation into the crash has yet to be completed (photograph by Kenya Forum).

Gabriel Dolan writes a weekly comment article in the Saturday Nation, ‘Different Strokes’, and it is one that the Kenya Forum team reads with interest. He usually writes a thought- provoking piece that is logically argued.

We do not always agree with Dolan (see Kenya Forum posting, Come on Gabriel, be an angel, blow your horn for real transparency’ regarding the Kenya Kroll report and other matters, 1 March, 2011) but that is as it should be.

Dolan’s theme this weekend was that, in his own words, ‘in the last 50 years, we have not provided any reasonable degree of safety to Kenyans’. In support of this contention he cited the carnage on our roads, buildings that collapse and much else besides. It’s worth a read (‘We must organize a national day of shame’) and the Forum endorses much of what he says.

‘PREMATURE, MISPLACED AND IRRESPONSIBLE’

However, Dolan’s article included a passing remark to the tragic helicopter crash that recently took the lives of Prof Saitoti, Orwa Ojodeh, their two bodyguards and the two pilots in charge of the flight.

‘It is a national shame’, wrote Dolan, ‘when so many leaders are taken to an early grave through accidents that could be avoided through proper maintenance’. If Gabriel Dolan is referring to the Saitoti helicopter crash, his comment is premature, misplaced and irresponsible.

The official investigation into the crash has yet to be completed so its cause is unknown. There are several possible explanations as to what happened: the question of the aircraft’s maintenance is only one line of inquiry among many others.

THE RUSH TO JUDGMENT

The Kenya Forum has visited the crash site with a helicopter pilot and a technical expert, spoken to other pilots and to an eye witness.

We believe we know the most likely cause of the crash but have decided to refrain from comment or speculation until the official investigation has been completed and reported. We urge Gabriel Dolan and the many other reporters and commentators who have all but rushed to uninformed judgment, to be equally responsible.

Related article: ‘Is there life on Mars?’, 13 January, 2011

General view of the helicopter crash site

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