After 99 days of shutdown, the Kenyan air space finally opened Wednesday, July, 15th 2020 for domestic flights which were officially launched at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), presided over by Cabinet Secretary for Transport, James Macharia.
President Uhuru Kenyatta had a fortnight ago, ordered that local flights resume in a bid to revive the Kenyan economy which has been hit hard by the Corona Virus pandemic. However, one of the major concerns hovering around the resumption of the flights was the safety of passengers and crew as planes move from one point to another.
The Kenya Airports Authority and other stakeholders in the sector had insisted that as a matter of urgency and for the safety of everyone, all measures had to be put in place before aircraft could be cleared for take-off to any destination across the country. Some of the measures include wearing of facemasks at all times while at airports and airstrips, temperature checks, and social distancing before boarding.
And it is the latter that had elicited mixed reactions from Kenyans, with some questioning the rationale behind allowing passengers to sit closely in an aircraft while the same is not allowed in public transport vehicles and even the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).
According to Kenya Airways Chief Executive Officer Allan Kilavuka, aircrafts are designed in such a way that it is safer to sit closely next to each other than in any other mode of transport, and even in a hospital environment. Kilavuka opines that air circulation in the cabin is near perfect, hence, it is fresh for everyone.
“The way the aircraft is designed in terms of air circulation and filtration system is even better than the hospital environment, and even in terms of design, the way the seating arrangements are, you almost have a shield between you and the person seated in front of you,” said Kilavuka.
He however emphasized the need for strict adherence to other preventive measures such as wearing facemasks at all times while aboard a plane even though he believes that the risks of transmission in the cabin are significantly reduced.
The way the manufacturers have designed air circulation is that it moves from up going down and out through filters, so it has reduced the risks. Indeed, there might be some risk between people sitting next to each other but remember we are requiring people to also wear face masks,” Kilavuka added.
Kenya Airways launched its local flights on Wednesday with two flights per day on the Nairobi – Mombasa route while one flight per day set for Kisumu – Nairobi route.
“We came up with a robust protocol that would ensure that as far as possible you do not have a chance of catching the Corona Virus in the airport or aviation ecosystem,” said Gilbert Kibe, Director General of the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority.
In May 2020, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said in an economics chart that social distancing would cripple most airlines despite the types of aircraft or capacity.
“Depending on the aircraft type and the seat configuration, social distancing could reduce the available seat capacity by 33-50%. And when such policies are pursued, the seat load factor of an aircraft is artificially capped,” read the IATA chart, in part.
KISUMU COUNTY- Lake Victoria is the second largest fresh water lake in the world, after Lake Superior of North America. It also stars as Africa’s largest lake and the largest tropical lake in the world. The lake has a surface area of 68,800 square kilometers, which matches the size of Republic of Ireland. Lake Victoria is located in East Africa whereby It serves Kenya- 6%, Uganda-45% and Tanzania 49%.
The lake, a major resource to the East Africa has a lot of benefits to the region, currently suppressed by the jeopardy, water hyacinth. “Under the blue economy, maritime transport would be the low hanging fruit that we have,” Dr. Ali-Said Matano, Exec Sec EALBC
Economic activities around the area feed the hyacinth. Industrial effluent, farming activities and soil erosion, contribute to the detrimental development of the harmful weed. This urgently calls for control of the feeding factors.
"Motorboat engines screech, worse still going off if the boat is not strong," lamented Philemon Haruni, assistant captain.
Mbita area in Homa Bay county, however, prides itself of clean water with no hyacinth. Residents of Siaya and Homa Bay Counties and Takawiri, Rusinga Mfangano islands Luanda and Kotieno islands are happy beneficiaries of steady water transport. Two water buses cruise through the area, serving fast yet safe and convenient transport through the lake. People of this region use motorboats as an alternative means of transport.
Ironically, to the hapless people of Kisumu the experience in Mbita is just but a dream due to the water hyacinth menace that hinders transport. Water hyacinth is occasionally swept by currents, depending on their direction.
Alarming statistics according to The Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute, indicate that the area covered by the weed increased from 6,142 hectares on February 11 to 7,583 hectares on February 15th this year.
Restoration of transport on Lake Victoria is underway as a flagship project spearheaded by the Lake Region Economic Bloc t revive the vast, yet dwindling resource.
“We have a directive from the governor, right honorable Raila Odinga and the President that all agencies including the regional bloc and counties must now think together. Our only term of reference is to rid the lake of the hyacinth and to dredge, that is all the principals want to hear,” Dr. Mathew Owili, Deputy Governor of Kisumu affirmed.
Bigger reliable machines are expected in at most 3 months and with a time frame of 15 months to complete the entire process of harvesting the water hyacinth, and thereafter dredging process to allow time for the construction of the new port awaiting the arrival of SGR.
The 14-Kisumu, Siaya, Migori, Busia, Homabay, Bomet, Kericho, Trans Nzoia, Nandi, Kisii, Nyamira, Bungoma, Kakamega and Vihiga -counties within the lake region economic bloc, parastatals directly linked to Marine transport are key stakeholders of the revamp process. Governments of the EAC members too are expected to take part.
Professional skills are a yardstick for the success of the project. “We need more marine vessels, we need more people to train in the marine industry so that we work in a professional way,”AnkolMwakazi, Captain, Water Bus.
Lake Victoria holds a fortune that is yet to be utilized and this will only happen upon its reclamation.
“The Kenya Pipeline has built a huge tank in Kisumu, the tank is ready to pump oil into big ships that can carry even 4 million liters of oil to Uganda and Tanzania Uganda consumes 4 million liters of oil in one day under the old way of transportation.
The big ships will be able to easily transport oil from Kisumu pipeline to Uganda and it will find its way to Rwanda, Congo and Southern Sudan and Mwanza and Musoma. That is a major milestone for the port of Kisumu… Abala Wanga, CEO, Lake Region Economic Bloc
Safety in transport is key and this could not have been overlooked. The inland port will bank on railway transport for the delivery of goods from Mombasa to the lake front and distribute to the respective counties through the lake. This is also expected to ease traffic and save time. Water transport and railway transport in sync is expected to bring a significant boost to economic growth in the lake region.
The reclamation plan comes with safety concern of those marine operators. “We have gazetted a number ‘110’ where a fisherman will be able to sound an alarm and we will be able to respond immediately,” ascertained Dr. Ali-Said Matano, Exec Sec. EALBC
Ronah Saada contributed to this article.
NAIROBI- Celebrated Kenya Airways pilot Joseph Kinuthia has retired. Captain Kinuthia retired on Tuesday, bringing to an end his 42 years of service at the national carrier, registering 24,000 hours of flight as a pilot.
The 65-year-old was the lead pilot during the launch of the historic KQ inaugural flight from Nairobi to New York on October the 28th, 2018.
His retirement coincided with his last flight from New York to Nairobi on Tuesday 19th February 2019 and an emotional Captain Kinuthia said the retirement opens a whole new chapter in his life.
"I had to shed a tear because this means that it is a complete change from what I have been used to, to new ground which I am not clear of yet," said Kinuthia.
His colleagues at Kenya Airways were also full of praise of him, saying his experience helped nurture other aspiring and other practising pilots.
"I have done around five flights with him and I must say he is one of the best trainers we have in the airline," said Patrick Kipsambu, First Officer with Kenya Airways.
Watch the full story on the video attached.
DUBAI, (UAE)- This week's The Chamwada Report brings you a special gift to commemorate this year's Valentines Day, a day on which loved ones share special moments. The show focuses on one special commodity that will surely exchange hands on that day and at some point in life. It is the flower.
A common commodity in Kenya, but rare in some countries. While everyone in love shares the red roses, the white flower is equally important. And so tonight's show gives special focus on the white rose flowers as Alex Chamwada traces the commodity from a farm in Kenya all the way to Dubai. To find out why Kenyan flowers are in high demand in international markets.
"While nothing beats red roses in saying I love you on Valentine’s day, the white rose on the other hand symbolizes purity, chastity and innocence," said William Gwaro - Production Manager, Black Petals Ltd. "White flowers can be used to convey sympathy or humility."
Statistics from the Kenya Flower Council indicate that Kenya's market share in the European Union (EU) stands at 38 per cent thus making her the lead exporter of flowers. Although there is growth in direct sales, 50 per cent of the Kenyan flower exports is still sold through Dutch Auctions.
Further KFC stats indicate that over 500,000 people, including 100,000 flower farm employees depend on the the Kenyan flouriculture industry, making an impact to the lives of more than 2 million people. Kenyan flowers are sold in 60 countries across the world. But it is not all about the red roses for Valentines. The show focuses on the ever popular white roses.
LONDON, UK- Macharia Gakuru is one Kenyan who's been to hell and back, quite literally. A busy man, who's love for bio-medical engineering saw him traverse the world, at one point almost lost it all.
He fell ill, unsure of the exact ailment, but he was ill. So ill that he had to be flown to London from Darfur to seek medical attention. That was the beginning of a whole new journey. A new chapter. One of resilience, determination, a bit of lost hope and resurgence, nonetheless.
"I was told I was very ill, I was not urinating and was going into a state of a coma, I lost appetite, symptoms of kidney failure, one morning the doctor told me it has been confirmed you have kidney failure, so you have to go on dialysis," Gakuru opens up to Daring Abroad.
Also on Daring Abroad: How Joseph Warungu cheated death while working in war-torn Congo
Having studied biomedical engineering, Gakuru flew to the United Kingdom with determination to further his studies. Before pursuing further studies Gakuru had gained some exposure here through exchange programs in the medical field in the early 90s which made him marketable upon his return to Kenya.
On the show, Macharia Gakuru narrates to Daring Abroad how kidney failure changed his life, how he dealt with it and what he has been doing from then on. This was in May 2008.
"I was very ill, unable to urinate and was going into a state of a coma, I lost appetite," narrates. "These are the symptoms of kidney failure and one morning the doctor confirmed I had kidney failure so I had to go on dialysis."
Despite all these and all thanks to her sister who donated a kidney to him, Gakuru soldiered on, seeing an opportunity to help other people affected by the same. That back at home, victims of kidney failure deserve a second chance
"In this life, people have different callings, for me I want to see transformation of kidney transplantation in our country," he says. " I would not want those who have kidney failures to die but to travel my path," adds Gakuru.
Macharia Gakuru's inspiring story aired in last week's Daring Abroad that aired on both KTN and KTN News channels. In his life as a daring Kenyan , Gakuru has dared so many things; including vying to be a councilor in the UK in vain. He went to the UK in 1995 for further studies and later became a publisher, writer and broadcaster all in one.
So how was he able to juggle the many responsibilities?
"The whole purpose of coming here was not really to learn about medical engineering but the learn about the culture and the people of this country," he tells Daring Abroad. "I wanted to integrate, I wanted to learn how they do things and take them back to the Kenya I love."
It is a condition in which the kidneys lose the ability to remove waste and excess water from the bloodstream. As waste and fluids accumulate, the other body systems get affected, potentially leading to complications. Kidney failure is divided into two categories: chronic kidney disease which is a longstanding disease of the kidney leading to renal failure and acute renal failure, a condition in which kidneys suddenly cannot filter waste from blood.
"Funny thing about kidneys is that if they fail, they fail both of them, when they work, they work both of them," says Gakuru. Adding that, "That is why kidney transplantation has nothing that would disable the donor, if you want to donate a kidney to your sister or brother there is not danger in you doing so."
ISTANBUL, TURKEY- This week on The Chamwada Report, we sought to dig deep into the Israeli-Palestine war that has been going on for decades and counting. The genesis of these findings was a media conference which was held in Turkey's capital, Istanbul, late last year.
The conference, whose theme was to focus on the future of Palestine in global media, brought together journalists (including Chams Media's Elijah Mwangi), leaders and other stakeholders from across the world, to identify the challenges that media faces in covering the civil war pitting Israel and Palestine.
To identify the loopholes and or biasness in coverage and ultimately, to address the most modest way through which to disseminate the right information to the world. Nothing but the truth. But why is there war in the first place?
Historian Saleh Halewani told Chams Media that the war is between two factions who accuse themselves of invading one another's land.
"The Palestinians considered the Jews who came here as emigrants, as people who took their land and are trying to kick them out of here," said Halewani. "It goes back to Abraham, when God promised this land to Abraham," he added.
You will remember that the Israeli and Arab Palestinians have been fighting for a long time now and the major bone of contention is nothing short of history between the two countries.
The Jewish people settled in Palestine, a country they considered their own home but little did they know that this would rub the Arab inhabitants the wrong way. And they would not take it lying down.
So what exactly is this war and why has it been going on? And can the global media play a role in stopping the war?
Watch the full story in the video attached.
And here are some of the responses from our viewers...
LUTON, ENGLAND- The Daring Abroad UK edition continued last week as we featured another Kenyan entrepreneur who has gone an extra mile to establish a shipping business in Luton Town, England.
Morris Njuguna went to the United Kingdom in 2003, a year after he graduated from the University of Nairobi with a degree in Economics and Social Studies. Ideally, he flew to the UK to further his studies, and that ambition gave birth to Kenya Exports Limited.
Also on Daring Abroad:
Like any other determined entrepreneur, Morris juggled studies, hustle and distractions with an aim of making ends meet, quite literally. And despite being holder of a Masters Degree in Accounting, he still had to fight lack of opportunities and ended up losing the war thus resorting to business.
"By 2007 , I came out with a Masters and in 2008 I was working on projects.. later on found out I had nothing to do that is why I went into business," tells Daring Abroad.
His small savings helped him put his fast foot forward to start the Kenya Exports Limited company that helps Kenyans in the UK and other parts of the wold in shipping their goods to Kenya.
"Kenya Exports Limited offers solutions to Kenyans who live in the UK or who live anywhere in the world and would like to ship anything from UK to Kenya," Njuguna further narrates.
Adding that, "We handle all the preparations, inspection, booking of containers or airline, space and we ship them to Kenya."
With his background in economics and further experience from Shiefiled Hallam University where he studied accounting, Morris Njuguna narrates to Daring Abroad the factors to consider when starting a business, cost implications and what to do when things seem to be going south in business.
"When I started this business I was in London, I used to live in one bedroom flat, that is where I started my business," he says.
"I looked for storage, with time family grew, we were constantly looking for somewhere knowing how London is I had to look for somewhere else for parking place for my business, looking was suiting me better, space and cost."
ESSEX, LONDON- Anne Wafula Strike is like the proverbial cat with 9 lives. In her whole life, she has defied odds, fought superstition and challenged status quo because she was meant to live like a normal human and not be locked up in some hut in Webuye, Kakamega County.
Her story is that of determination, guts and positivity. It is inspiring and motivating especially when you look back to her days growing up. And in that spirit, Anne Wafula Strike has defied all the disability odds to become a powerful, admired role model in the United Kingdom. She literally dines with royalty.
"I was born as a normal healthy child- that is what my parents tell me. And when I was two and half years, I got very ill; nobody knew what was happening," she says.
"And because of the kind of life then, there were two minds. Christians believed I was cursed by God and the traditionalists believed I had been bewitched."
Also on Daring Abroad
Apart from championing the rights of persons living with disability in the UK, Anne Wafula Strike is also a paralympian. She has participated in five Paralympics since 2004 and has also been to World Championships. But it has been long, a very long story, she says.
Had it not been for the aggression of her father though, a former military warrant officer, Anne Wafula Strike would not be who she is today. Her entire family had to fight superstition, primitive and archaic beliefs of her community back then, to let her live and see her dreams come true. And that her father did, against all the odds.
"The traditionalists expected my father to abandon me because they started seeing me as an outcast, a burden just like other disabled children who are locked up in houses," Anne tells Daring Abroad.
"It was then that my father took me to Kenyatta hospital where I was diagnosed with polio."
On Daring Abroad tonight, Anne Wafula-Strike also tells Alex Chamwada how and why villagers back in Mihuu, Webuye wanted to burn their home, how they managed to escape and the role her father played during the tumultuous times.
"We had to flee our home and ended up in Kahawa Barracks because my dad was in the army," she narrates.
LOITA, (NAROK COUNTY) -While the war against poaching and encroachment of the Mau Forest jumped from a good initiative to politics and war pitting communities against each other, it is a different picture in Loita Forest, about 147km away from Narok town.
Here, in Loita village, residents have taken it upon themselves to conserve the forest; fight against poaching and cutting down of indigenous trees. Loita, fondly known by locals as Naimina Enkiyio (forest of the lost child), is one of the remnants of indigenous forests in Kenya.
Locals believe it is theirs to treasure, aided by a global non-profit organisation - International Fund for Animal Welfare Protection (IFAW) and Ilkimpa Community Conservation Association (ICCA).
The Ten Boma model is akin to national government's Nyumba Kumi initiative and brings together members of the community into conserving the environment. It includes elders like the Oloiboni, community scouts, rangers and morans with a common goal of conserving the environment.
Faye Cuevas, Senior Vice President of IFAW, said they developed the idea following the suspected killing of elephants in Loita Forest in 2016."It was then that we started looking at what we as IFAW could do to help the community conserve Loita Forest,” she said.
"Ten Boma is a wildlife security initiative that focuses on providing security for wildlife and people that live near protected areas," Ms Cuevas explained.
"It works in such a way that we built a system that data information about security threats, analyses that data and delivers it to the law enforcement agencies," she said.
Members of the community were divided into enough groups to protect the land and according to their leaders; they have played significant roles in its conservation.The project addresses the Loita Maasai sub-clan of the Inkidongi (Laibon) lineage, a community of about 3,272 men and women and another 25,000 indirect beneficiaries in the wider Loita community.
"We have community rangers and scouts who act as our eyes because we cannot access Loita Forest all the time," said ICCA Director Crescentia Senteu.
The Oloiboni, who is the spiritual leader of the Maasai community, leads the elders and the entire team in conserving the forest. Loita Forest is a sacred place and no one is allowed into the forest without the direct and authoritative permission of the Oloiboni.
Among the groups, there are two special categories whose roles are more advanced. First are the scouts; eight well trained, equipped and dressed passionate men whose role is to tour the forest, guard it, record coordinates and compile reports in an occurrence book before sending verified data to their main office.
Secondly, and more interestingly, are the women photographers from an empowerment group called Nkonyek Oolkimpa. These are aggressive women who believe that pictures can indeed tell a story. IFAW, in conjunction with Lensational, provide them with cameras and photography lessons.
They are then asked to document whatever they encounter around Loita Forest.Kenya Wildlife Service through the Narok County Senior Warden Dickson Ritan plays an advisory role to the community and believes community organisation plays a huge role in forest conservation.Working together"We have been working together with communities in the land around Masai Mara National Reserve and so far we have 16 community conservancies," Mr Ritan said.
Compared to other forests in Narok County, Loita seems to benefit hugely from the Ten Boma strategy and so begs the question, why can't other communities, including those around Mau, do the same?
Narok County Commissioner George Natembeya, who has been at the center of fighting encroachment in Mau Forest, said the two scenarios were different.
“What we are seeing in the Mau is that the forest was left for everyone. No one is responsible. That is why people come from as far as Kisii, Nyamira, Nakuru and other places to invade the forest,” he said.
A similar edition of this article was published on the Standard Digital
KWALE COUNTY- It is known all over the world for its beaches of the Kenyan South Coast, the most popular being Diani. However, Kwale being one of the marginalized Counties in Kenya, many places here are prone to poverty hence many school going children find their way out of school to seek alternative means of income.
This income is used to support families and is often relied on by the young boys and girls for their day to day necessities of life.
It was observed that parenting, poverty, and lack of education are the main contributors to high numbers of school drop outs in Kwale.
Wairimu Munyinyi Wahome who is the Executive Director of Coalition on Violence against Women (COVAW) told Chams Media that Kwale is one of the region with high prevalence of school dropouts and her organization is striving to change the narrative.
“Kwale County is one of the counties in Kenya that has very high numbers of girls that are out of school, the enrollment rates are low and even for the few girls that make it to school, their retention and transition rates to secondary school are even lower," she said.
However, various stakeholders have come in to rescue the girls from early marriages, teenage pregnancies, and rampant school dropout cases.
According to Joyce Karigia of Terre des Hommes Netherlands, partnerships have been key. She says “In Kwale, we partner and work closely with the Kwale Child Rights Network and also the Gender Technical Working Group in Kwale to advocate and lobby with the girls.”
Through Girls Advocacy Alliance (GAA) program under implementation by the COVAW and Terre des Hommes Netherlands, at least 21 women and girls working groups have been identified.
These girls are trained on how to champion and advocate for their rights. For instance, at the training done at Kingwede Girls Secondary School in Msambweni Sub-County last week, the girls actively participated.
Through such training, the girls and young women get empowered to appreciate life and work hard towards self-reliance.
It is expected that such trainings will help change the mindsets of the community that has overtime relied on backward cultural practices so that girl’s rights are upheld.