The devastating impact of sanctions by the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority against Kenyan Airways clearly prompted heavy political pressure on Kenya’s top duo, and it appears that the lobbying and what essentially amounted to “get this sorted or else” messages bore fruit when Kenya President Kenyatta spoke to Tanzania President Kikwete to lift sanctions imposed by both countries earlier on at lower level.
It is understood that Kenya Airways and other Kenyan airlines will resume their full schedule with immediate effect and that Mwanza will also remain open for Kenya airlines to operate into.
The result of presidential intervention also exposes the incredible stubbornness and “cutting off your nose to spite your face” attitude among tourism and aviation bureaucrats and the responsible ministers on both sides of the border. Hotheads from Kenya and Tanzania for a few days were in a shouting match frenzy on social media and comment sections in the print media and several notorious individuals even spoke of cutting diplomatic ties. This exposed their dire lack of common sense and their ability to seek compromise over confrontation, something they seem to thrive on.
In turn, Tanzanian tourist vehicles will again be able to access Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, with effect as of today. First in December and then again in February, this whole scenario was made impossible by a verdict of none other than the Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for East African Affairs, who also still holds the tourism portfolio, clearly failing on both scores and paving the way for the confrontation of the past five days.
It is hoped that the directive by the heads of state to resume deliberations, and it is understood that the entire range of issues from both sides will be put on the agenda, can bring their bureaucrats to heel and have them do what is necessary to ensure continued smooth cross border operations for tourism and aviation.
Sources close to Tanzania’s Fastjet, an airline clearly meeting nationality requirements, as is outlined under the Bilateral Air Services Agreement between the two countries, are contrary to what ill-intended individuals have been peddling in public, having expressed quiet hope that their landing rights will soon be approved now that the spirit of give and take has resumed at the highest level of relations between the two countries.
Said an Arusha-based source: “Keeping these bans up, even in an election year, would have caused immense economic damage on both sides. This was the best outcome, and we hope that the next round of negotiations will reach agreement on a whole range of issues, all aimed to fully implement the East African Community [EAC] protocols in place about economic cooperation and access to each other’s markets. We need to learn to be partners. Our parks and attractions complement each other. Serengeti and Masai Mara are trans-boundary ecosystems which need protecting and using in equal terms. Tsavo and Mkomanzi and Amboseli and Kilimanjaro and Arusha National Park are adjoining, too, and I personally hope that sooner rather than later we can return to the pre 1977 modus operandum when borders were open across the EAC and everyone could travel freely.”