Sh242m paid for Garang crash 'copter

Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni

The National Insurance Corporation has paid $3,366,000 (KSh242 million) to the government in compensation for President Yoweri Museveni's helicopter, which crashed last year killing Sudanese Vice President Dr John Garang and 13 other people.

Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni

The company's board chairman, Mr Martin Aliker, handed over the cheque to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic and the Secretary to the Treasury, Mr Chris Kassami, at the ministry headquarters in Kampala. 

Finance Minister Ezra Suruma attended the function.

Mr Suruma commended the firm for the gesture saying it had exhibited the company's competence and "a good example" to other insurance companies.

"Insurance companies should be faithful to their word and fulfil their obligations," Mr Suruma said, adding that the tragedy had brought much misery to many people and to the whole region.

The firm's managing director, Mr Bola Ososanya, said the company had provided full insurance cover for the helicopter since 1998 and the accident was covered by the insurance policy. 

"This gesture is in line with NIC's long tested policy to provide professional services to all our clients and maintain an unrivalled willingness to settle all bona-fide claims promptly," he said. 

Ministry officials said the money would be passed on to the Office of the President. However, the money might not be enough for a new plane, which costs a minimum of $3.8 million (KSh273.6 million).

Asked how they came to the conclusion that the crash was indeed an accident, Mr Ososanya said the insurance company had carried out its own investigations. 

"We did our own investigation and confirmed that it was something we can pay and we have paid," he said, without going into details.

Ironically, the government last June sold its 60 per cent stake in NICL to Industrial and General Insurance Company Ltd (IGI) a leading Nigerian insurance firm for about the same amount (UShs6.2b). 

Mr Ososanya said this was the heaviest claim the company had ever paid out but that it "had the strength" to pay. 

The Mi-172 helicopter VIP Series, crashed in bad weather in the Imatong Hills on July 30 last year, killing Garang along with 13 other people who included seven Ugandans. 

Mr Ososanya said another "huge claim" in compensation for the people who perished in the crash would be made public at later date after settling with the victims' families.