Martin Joseph defends $67m spent on blimps as Opposition charges corruption...
National Security Minister Martin Joseph admitted yesterday that the very first blimp which this Government had purchased at a cost $12.6 million was not suitable for this country's weather conditions.
In addition, Joseph said $7,056,000 was spent to maintain and repair this non functioning blimp-Aeros 40B SkyDragon-that was acquired on December 20, 2004.
This was over a six-month period at $1,176,000 a month.
Joseph disclosed these figures at yesterday's Parliament sitting at the Red House, Port of Spain, in response to a question on the Order Paper from Princes Town North MP Subhas Panday.
Joseph said Government acquired and leased three aerial surveillance platforms between 2004 and 2006.
According to Joseph, the Aeros 40B SkyDragon, "was later found to be unsuited for the local atmospheric conditions" and as a result a decision was taken to lease a new blimp - the Skyship 600.
The SkyShip 600 was leased at a cost of $4,785,590 for the period November 24, 2005, to mid-May 2006 and repairs and maintenance cost were part of the lease.
Joseph said in 2006 the Government sold the first blimp at its initial cost and decided to purchase the Skyship 600 at a price of $15,750,000.
The Skyship 600 was purchased in June 2006 and according to Joseph it is "the only airship currently in operation".
Joseph said the average cost of maintaining the Skyship 600 is $1,417,000 a month, which amounts to $17,010,000 annually.
Since it was purchased, approximately $26,929,000 has been spent to repair and maintain this blimp.
According to the figures provided by Joseph, this means that approximately $67,120,590 has been spent on blimps over the past three years. Government was able to recoup $12.6 million spent on the purchase of the first blimb which it sold.
Joseph described the blimp as an operation tool in the law enforcement regime and not an independent asset and it is part of a holistic information and intelligence programme that involves all the arms of law enforcement agencies in the country.
"This intelligence gathering capability has proven to be of tremendous use as an investigative aid and as a resource in crime management,'' Joseph said.
"While extensive detail relating to its operations cannot be disclosed for reasons of national security, I would like to reassure my honourable colleagues that the airship remains a valuable asset and that its contribution toward helping to alleviate the current crime situation cannot be underestimated," Joseph continued.
He was then pressed by Tabaquite MP Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj and Panday (S) as to what sort of crimes and the number of criminal activities the blimp helped to solve.
Joseph reiterated that the specific number of crimes the blimp has aided cannot be calculated as it is all part of a holistic effort of law enforcement agencies.
In defence of the blimp, Joseph pointed out that this technology is increasingly being used by a number of countries to curtail various types of crimes.
He said the United States secret service used it during the 1994 World Cup, it was also used by the New York police department for counter terrorism activities as well as in Greece for the 2004 Olympics.
Joseph said last year the Venezuelan Government purchased three blimps in an effort to curtail criminal activities in that country as it has the highest death rate from firearms with some 34.3 deaths per 100,000 according to the United Nations.
What fockin amount of maoney this fockin PNM has to spend for zero return on investment.
For Joseph to 'answer' as he did (because he really didn't answer at all) is fockin downright insulting to the intelligence.
“It has proven to be of tremendous use as an investigative (tool) and resource in crime management,” he says. Oh fock?
How exactly has the blimp done so? It is a mudder cont flying antenna, nothing more, and may be equipped with directional sound amplifiers to listen in on conversations on the ground. However, it is doubtful that it ever heard any conversations of value beyond "Ay, allyuh see the blimp up dere?"
'I would like to reassure my honourable colleagues that the airship remains a valuable asset and that its contribution toward helping to alleviate the current crime situation cannot be underestimated," Joseph continued. '
The last fockin time I checked, the crime figures were skyrocketing, so I have no idea what this cont talkin bout. The statistics tell a totally different story. And using the fact that other countries have also purchased blimps in the past is hardly an answer to the question 'what has the blimp done for us?' -
Blimps have been used for things like the World Cup for one simple reason: they can stay aloft and almost stationary for extended periods of time, unlike fixed or rotary winged aircraft, and thus don't require constant takeoffs and landings to refuel, but these events have been of limited duration and for finite geography, which is a very different application than the one that cacahole is 'defending'.