Africa: Kenya, Tanzania resolves aviation, diplomatic row over COVID-19 and flight resumption

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The Kenyan government and its Tanzanian counterpart may have resolved the diplomatic row that trailed the statements issued by the East African nations banning flights from both countries.

The two East African neighbours have become embroiled in a tit-for-tat diplomatic row over border access that has been simmering since the early days of the pandemic.

According to thesouthafrican.com, the latest twist in the tale is the decision by Tanzanian authorities to revoke, from 1 August, permission for Kenya Airways to fly to the three destinations until further notice.

“This letter also rescinds all previous arrangements that permit KQ (the aviation code for Kenya Airways) flights into the United Republic of Tanzania,” Hamza Johari, head of the Tanzanian Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) wrote in a document sent on Friday to the airline.

Tanzania made the decision after the Kenyan government omitted Tanzania from a list of countries whose passengers are allowed into Kenya on commercial flights from 1 August.
“Tanzania has noted… its exclusion in the list of countries whose people will be allowed to travel into Kenya,” Johari said in the same letter.

Part of the Kenyan government’s reasoning may be Tanzania’s very relaxed approach to COVID-19 health and safety measures.

But Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development, James Macharia in a live telecast on Sunday said both countries have resolved the differences that trailed the row, describing it as a misunderstanding of the information that was disseminated.

He stated that Kenya had never banned flights from Tanzania or travellers from the country.

He said: “This morning I had an extensive discussion with my counterpart in Tanzania, because some of you are aware that there was an issue with regard to flights from Tanzania into Kenya, and we needed to clarify that, me and my brother from Tanzania, the minister for transport Eng. Isack Aloyce Kamwelwe , that indeed there was no misunderstanding. Kenya has never banned flights from Tanzania or travellers from Tanzania. What we have done is to indicate certain health related protocols of people arriving from various countries.

“And this is the protocol which is contained in the communiqué which was issued on Thursday and for which we are reviewing in terms of countries which will be coming here. And so I would like to confirm that we did agree with the minister for transport for Tanzania that we shall be making this announcement that indeed we have met by virtual meeting this morning and we agreed on all issues and that advisory which was given by Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority yesterday we believe by the end of the day it will be reversed with regard to the Kenya Airways flights from here to Tanzania.”

There had been growing concerns on how Tanzania is handling rising cases of the coronavirus pandemic in the country among its East African neighbours.

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