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What going on around Kenya – Saturday 01/08/2015


What Kenya needs to do to start direct flights to the US

For Kenyans, one of the more exciting moments of US president Barack Obama’s visit last week was his brief, vague comment that direct flights between the US and Kenya might soon resume.

American and Kenyan security officials had convened, he said, and “real progress has been made.”

For an airport to act as a “last point of departure” to the US it has to meet certain security standards.

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) has twice failed audits by the International Civil Aviation Organization, one in 2013 and one last April; it’s up for another audit in October.

The reasons it failed aren’t public, but in the past, US regulators have cited a failure to properly separate departing from arriving passengers, buildings lying in the flight path, and a lack of fencing around the airport.

Recent upgrades were supposed to have addressed these issues, so it’s unclear why the airport again fell short.

But JKIA only has to improve its safety score slightly from 78.42 at the last audit to a minimum of 80 to be classified as a “Category 1” airport by US regulators and get approval for direct flights.

The KQ Dreamliner B787  at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU
The KQ Dreamliner B787 at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU

Africa’s fourth largest airline is in danger of collapsing

Kenya Airways has gone from being one of the region’s leading airlines and a point of national pride to one the worst performing carriers in the world.

This week, the partly government-owned airline reported its largest annual loss ever, a pre-tax shortfall of Sh 29.7 billion for the 2014-2015 year.

Investors are calling on the government to bail out the company before a full collapse.

“We cannot just sit back and allocate huge sums to some irrelevant sectors while ignoring our national pride. Let us rescue this sinking ship,” said Chris Kirubi, chairman of Centum Investment and a major shareholder in the airline.

Local politicians are also decrying what they say has been mismanagement of the national carrier, Africa’s fourth largest by passenger capacity.

Other observers blame the airline’s decline on nepotism and elitism of the leadership, while some theorize the string of losses is part of an intentional ploy to sell off the carrier cheaply.

What is certain is that the airline, and the country as a whole, has been hit by falling tourism as a result of travel advisories issued by other countries over insecurity concerns.

The airline is also victim to a poorly timed expansion, a miscalculated hedge on fuel prices, reduced travel to West Africa over Ebola fears, and competition from Middle Eastern airlines like Turkish Airlines, Emirates and Gulf, which are increasingly accounting for more flights to the region.

Stolen Goods Worth Sh80 million recovered

Flying Squad officers on Saturday recovered Sh80 million pharmaceutical goods and electronics and arrested a suspect from a house in Syokimau used as a den by highway robbers.

The recovered goods include Sh8 million medicine stolen from a Citylink Pharma godown on Likoni Road in July.

There were also Sh2 million medicine stolen from Pharma Specialities on Mombasa Road, Sh70 million electronics and textile goods stolen from a Golden Gate Cargo Services truck by gangsters dressed as police officers in Salgaa, Nakuru, in July.

The medicine included Flucold, Amoxil, Powercef vials, Brufen, Scotts Emulsion, Brufen syrup, Ventolin syrup and Ibidroxil, among others.

The electronics included mobile phones, toner cartridges, clothes, conference telephones and mobile chargers.

The arrested suspect told police he is a caretaker but did not name his employer.

Chumani Secondary School students collect what remained of their personal effects after a fire burnt down their dormitory. PHOTO | KAZUNGU SAMUEL
Chumani Secondary School students collect what remained of their personal effects after a fire burnt down their dormitory. PHOTO | KAZUNGU SAMUEL

Government alarmed by rising incidents of arson in schools

The ministry of education has sounded an alarm over the rising incidents of unrest in schools and issued a stern warning to head-teachers and principals who continue to administer mock exams that they will be dealt with accordingly.

Speaking during a stake-holders meeting at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development education cabinet secretary, Prof. Jacob Kaimenyi cited the fear of examinations as a major cause of student unrest in schools.

Local Lottery jackpot hits Sh 21 million mark

A local lottery, SportPesa is causing excitement as many Kenyans continue to win monetary awards.

SportPesa chief marketing officer, Kester Shimonyo Muhanji, on Saturday said the awaiting winner has topped Sh21,798,070.

“Two jackpot winners have in the last one year alone, claimed prizes running into millions of shillings. In between the jackpot prizes are numerous Kenyans who have bagged millions of shillings with a good number pocketing a million or more shillings each,” said Mr Muhanji.

The first winner, Andrew Mghanga, walked away with Sh 5,351,700 in July last year, while in March, Paul Wainaina won Sh 8,927,869.

Two die after drinking illicit brew in Kapsabet

As operations to rid the country of illicit brew slows down, two people have died while three other are receiving treatment following a drinking spree in Kapsabet, Nandi County.

The deadly brew is believed to have been on transit to Nakuru.