What was the contribution to the crime fight of the two helicopters bought by the previous government?

Dear Editor,

I see that Mr Gerry Gouveia is offering our new(ish) government help in the crime fight. He is offering a one-hour aerial patrol per month at no cost. This reminded me of a little quest of mine. It was to decide whether I had only dreamt that the previous government had acquired helicopters to help in the crime fight. I had begun to wonder if I had only dreamt it because no matter whom I asked no one seemed to remember. Nor was there anyone asking this question in the letter columns or anywhere else.

So in desperation I tried again today and found your report of April 14, 2008 here:  http://www.stabroeknews.com/ 2008/archives/04/14/pncr-afc-want-to-know-more-about-copter-transaction/

When I found it I was sure that I had not been dreaming but that Guyanese are truly a very forgetful people. Here indeed were the kinds of things I remembered: ‘PNCR, AFC want to know more about copter transaction’: “President Bharrat Jagdeo following the Lusignan and Bartica massacres had announced that the administration was procuring two choppers to aid in the crime fight. He said then that officials of the army air corps and other personnel were sent to the US to conduct the transaction.”

“Cabinet Secretary Dr Roger Luncheon had told this newspaper that the two choppers have cost the government over US$1.5M. The advertised price for the chopper which was bought from a Puerto Rican company and which flew into this country last week was US$595,000. The 1980-manufactured Bell 206 chopper is said to have chalked up over 10,000 flying hours. Not much is known about the other machine which is expected here this week from Texas.”

“Ramjattan further questioned what had become of the army’s Bell 412 helicopter which the National Assembly had approved $24M to repair earlier this year. ‘Where has that money gone to…we are not seeing the Bell 412 in the skies but the government went to the parliament and asked for money to repair it,’ Ramjattan argued. Back in January the House approved $9.8B in supplementary spending over the 2007 budget $24M of which was for the repair of the Bell 412 chopper. The chopper was acquired under the PNC administration but it is currently sitting at the Tacama savannah under a tarpaulin shed.”

The two more recently purchased helicopters were reported to have some kind of spying capability. When questions continued to be raised Dr Luncheon, I think it was, had said that all we had to do is to wait and see the difference those choppers were going to make.

Well, it is eight years later and the PPP is chastising the Granger administration for their failure in the crime fight. Maybe even before the GPF answers, the very vigilant opposition could tell us what became of the great contribution those choppers made that is causing Gerry Gouveia to have to offer a one-hour charity to the government.

Yours faithfully,

Frederick W A Collins

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