Alternatives to private jets: President Ruto’s USA trip sparks debate

President William Ruto has defended his decision to charter a private jet to the United States of America, insisting that it was the cheapest option.

The President said his choice of the Boeing 737-700 business jet operated by Royal Jet of Dubai was cheaper at $748,600 (Sh98 million), one way.

“I have noted concerns about my mode of transport to USA. As a responsible steward of public resources and in keeping with my determination for us to live within our means and that I should lead from the front in so doing, the cost was less than travelling on KQ,” the President posted on his X account, formerly Twitter, yesterday afternoon.

His response comes as Azimio leaders led by Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka questioned the logic behind President Ruto’s call to Kenyans to “cut their coats according to their cloth”.

“It doesn’t matter what the President brings back to the country. The Sh200 million is not pocket change. This is pure wastage,” said Mr Musyoka.

Speaking while in Gikomba, Nairobi on Saturday, Mr Musyoka said the timing of the US trip was bad, considering the hard economic times Kenyans are going through.

Government Spokesperson Isaac Mwaura last week defended the President’s expensive trip, and urged Kenyans to look at the benefits rather than the cost.

“That President’s jet they are talking about… Let us not even talk about it. The President has been able to secure close to Sh1 trillion in benefits…The President has gone there like the elder of this Kenyan village and you’re there asking about the fare. The benefits he will bring back are a million times the fare,” said Mr Mwaura while responding to questioned by journalists.

But on Saturday Mr Kalonzo rubbished Mr Mwaura’s defence of the trip, saying the Sh200 million was enough to take care of a lot of issues affecting Kenyans.

“People are bragging that they care about hustlers; mama mboga and boda boda riders. I want to ask you today here in Gikomba. How many mama mbogas boarded that jet to the US?” Asked Mr Musyoka.

A visit to Royal Jet website shows that the group’s Boeing Business Jets is the leading VIP airliner on the market available for charter. It also delivers various configurations to suit one’s needs.

The jet President Ruto used to and from the US cost Sh2.4 million per hour. The total one-way trip cost not less than Sh98 million.

On Sunday, the Nation tried to book a ticket with Kenya Airways from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia and the cost per passenger was Sh664,645.

Assuming that President Ruto travelled with 30 people, the total amount is Sh19,939,950. This figure could vary, if say, the tickets were booked earlier, which would make them cheaper.

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