DIPLOMATIC ROW

Tanzania locked out as Kenya resumes international flights

Tanzania locked out of list of countries allowed into Kenya

In Summary

•On Tuesday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied claims that the Kenyan delegation to President Benjamin Mkapa’s funeral was turned back mid-air by the Tanzanian authorities.

•The claims of possible retaliation by Tanzania were linked to comments made by President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday.

Kenyan First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya) and John Magufuli (Tanzania) at State House in Nairobi, November 1, 2016. /PSCU
Kenyan First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya) and John Magufuli (Tanzania) at State House in Nairobi, November 1, 2016. /PSCU

Tanzania is not among the initial list of 11 countries allowed to fly into Kenya.

In a communiqué announced by Transport CS James Macharia, China,  South Korea, Japan, Canada, Uganda, France, Namibia,  Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Switzerland  and  Morocco who have mild and limited community transmission will be allowed.

The CS said the list will be reviewed on a regular basis depending on the circumstances on the ground and after a comprehensive global mapping of the intensity of the disease.

According to the communiqué, all the passengers arriving in the country will be required to produce a PCR based Covid-19 certificate whose test should have been done 96 hours before travel.

“Let it be clear that those who will have a certificate of tests done before the stipulated 96 hrs will not be allowed to board in the first place. On arrival the passengers’ temperature should not exceed 37.5 degrees and not display any Covid-19 related signs,” Macharia said.

He said only such passengers will be exempted from quarantine.

Kenya uses PCR tests, which directly detect the presence of an antigen, rather than the presence of the body’s immune response, or antibodies.

Some countries use antibody tests which check the blood by looking for antibodies, which may tell if one had a past infection with the virus that causes Covid-19.

Macharia said passengers traveling out of the country will be required to abide by Covid-19 requirements of destination countries and before boarding, airline operators are under firm instructions to check compliance.

“Passengers arriving after curfew hours shall be allowed to proceed to their hotels but must have a valid passport and boarding pass,” he said.

The CS said drivers of such passengers will also be required to provide evidence that they came from the airport to pick them.

“For those departing after the curfew hours, they must have a valid boarding pass before they are allowed,” he said.

 

Macharia said air operators are required to provide guiding materials on the application of preventive measures.

"It should be noted that the aviation industry is an important sector both in terms of transmission and opening the economy. As we head towards the resumption of the international flights we have developed these protocols to ensure the safety of travelers,’ he said.

Macharia said through the resumption of the local flights, the industry had taken some time to learn what needs to be improved to ensure maximum readiness ahead of the August 1.

Domestic flight after approvals and protocols opened up on July 15.

The move to exempt Tanzania on the list comes amid increasing diplomatic wars with Kenya.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied claims that the Kenyan delegation to President Benjamin Mkapa’s funeral was turned back mid-air by the Tanzanian authorities.

The plane carrying West Pokot Senator Samuel Poghisio, who is the Senate Majority leader, returned to Nairobi as soon as it reached Monduli in Tanzania, The Citizen reported.

This was confirmed by Tanzania’s Foreign Affairs Minister Palamagamba Kabudi, who said they expected President Uhuru Kenyatta’s envoy.

 
 
 

Introducing guests at the funeral service in Uhuru Stadium, Kabudi said they had received information that the plane carrying Poghisio had been forced to turn mid-air because of bad weather.

“We were expected to have with us the special envoy representing President Uhuru Kenyatta, Senator Samuel Losuron Poghisio… but we have received information that his plane was forced to turn mid-air in Monduli. The information we have is that the plane is expected to land safely in Nairobi,” Kabudi said.

Sought for a comment, the Foreign Affairs ministry agreed with Tanzanian authorities' version of events.

“It was a technical problem. Kenya was, therefore, represented by High Commissioner Dan Kazungu. He is at the funeral service,” head of public communications Jane Kariuki said on the phone.

 
 

The claims of possible retaliation by Tanzania were linked to comments made by President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday.

 

Speaking during his 10th Presidential Address on Covid-19, President Kenyatta told Kenyans not to think countries that are not releasing their coronavirus data are doing any better in handling the pandemic.

 
 

“Let’s not compare ourselves and say some places don’t have the virus. Why do we have it, and they don’t? Let me remind Kenyans, we live in a democracy where there is media freedom. As a state, we don’t have the power to hide anything. Whatever happens, we tell you.”

“There are others who have that power. But we are proud of the fact that we are a democracy and are able to tell each other the truth and face the reality instead of sweeping the truth under the carpet and have our citizens suffer quietly,” Uhuru said.

Uhuru fell short of naming Tanzania, which has been accused of siting on Covid-19 data and restricting news reporting about the pandemic.

Tanzania last announced its Covid-19 numbers on April 29, when it put the cases at 480 and 21 deaths.