GOVERNMENT says it did all it could to ensure that the Chipolopolo flew out to Cape Verde in good time for Wednesday’s Morocco 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Group F qualifier.
Ministry of Sports Permanent Secretary Agness Musunga said the undue criticism Government has received was unfortunate as it remains committed to the development of sport and the welfare of all sports men and women in all disciplines, including football.
Musunga explained in a statement yesterday her ministry responded to the AFCON fixtures submitted on June 16 by seeking support from the private sector to meet the cost of chartering a plane for the three away fixtures.
She said Government took up the responsibility of chartering the plane after getting no response from the private sector and received a quotation from MTHA Aviation (PVT) Limited of South Africa through the Football Association of Zambia team manager.
“MTHA AVIATION (PVT) Ltd asked for a full upfront payment 72 hours before departure. The Ministry of Youth and Sport paid MTHA AVIATION (PVT) Ltd on Friday September 5. The initial quotation indicated the day of departure for Cape Verde as September 9 from Lusaka and the return to Zambia on September 11,” she said.
But that after consultations, Musunga said it was agreed that the plane departs for Cape Verde on September 8 from Ndola at 07:00 hours and returns two days later and that the airline acknowledged the change.
She said the airline assured that the plane would land in Ndola on Monday midday but did not as the airline attributed delay to changes on date of departure and airports in Zambia and Cape Verde.
“The plane did not land as indicated. The airline said the delay was due to many changes in the date of departure and the change of the airports in Zambia and Cape Verde. At 14:00 hours, the airline indicated that the plane would arrive in Ndola at 18:00 hours and would depart for Cape Verde the following morning. The Ministry rejected this because the team needed to train before the match,” she said.
Musunga said the airline made several demands and excuses including requesting help with air space clearance which was done despite short notice.
“At this point concern over the behaviour of the service provider was raised and it was decided that another service provider be sought while pursuing the plane in South Africa. Procurement of an alternative chartered flight was finalised when the MTHA plane finally arrived in Ndola at 20:40 hours,” she said.
Times of Zambia