By Lamin Cham
Following days of rumours and speculations about the reported sale of one presidential aircraft to a Belarusian company, the Gambia government has now stated that in fact all three planes have been sold to a Gambian businessman.
On Sunday, respected international media Africa Intelligence claimed the administration of Adama Barrow found a Belarusian buyer for Yahya Jammeh’s Ilyushin IL62-M aircraft. According to the magazine, the long-range Ilyushin IL62-M has been sold to Rada Airlines, a private sector Belarusian airfreight carrier, at a price that is yet to be disclosed.
The medium also reported that the aircraft has already left Banjul and landed in Vitebsk, 223 km northeast of Minsk, on 8 August, after a stopover in Djerba in Tunisia.
But Speaking to The Standard yesterday after breaking the news on West Coast Radio, Government spokesman Ebrima Sankareh disclosed that the Ministry of Finance under the guidelines of the Gambia Civil Aviation Authority has sold all three planes to Modou Turo Darboe, a businessman, at a cumulative price of $500,000.
“The sales were conducted in 2019,” Sankareh confirmed. He would not know whether Mr Darboe has resold any.
Mr Turo Darboe is also a well-known philanthropist through his charity, the Vision Development Foundation, VDF.
However, many people asked why it took the government three years to reveal the sale.