Category Archives: Air

Africa: U.S. Commends Cote D’Ivoire for Reinstating Air Travel

From: U.S. Department of StatePress Statement
Jen Psaki
Department Spokesperson
Washington, DC
September 27, 2014

The United States commends Cote d’Ivoire for reinstating air travel to Ebola-affected countries, in line with WHO and IATA recommendations. President Ouattara’s decision greatly enhances the ability of the international community to facilitate and deliver the rapid and critical response to the Ebola outbreak and helps maintain vital trade and commercial links to the region. The United States welcomes Cote d’Ivoire’s timely action and example and continues to urge everyone in the international community to do more to stop Ebola and save lives.
The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.
External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.

Stay connected with the State Department:


From: Fakhi Karume

In the world of aviation, Kenya Airways (KQ) has announced a first – that Captain Irene Koki Mutungi was promoted to be the first African Captain on the world’s latest plane, the Boeing B787 Dreamliner.

Captain Mutungi was the first ever and only female pilot at Kenya Airways for about six years – more ladies have since joined the airline in the cockpits of their various planes – and has risen steadily through the ranks.

Irene was flying as a First Officer on the 767-300ER, the second largest aircraft in the Kenya Airways fleet after the Boeing B777-300ER, and then became the first female Kenya Airways Captain of a Boeing 767-300ER until she finished her course for type conversion successfully and was elevated to fly in the left hand seat of KQ’s latest acquisition.

Following the first delivery of the new bird on April 5 are another 5 such aircraft expected this year before in 2015 a further three of these aircraft will be delivered by Boeing to “The Pride of Africa.”

Captain Irene Mutungi’s latest professional accomplishment is a first is indeed for the world of aviation and as such a cause for celebration, as she becomes the first African female Boeing 787 Captain in the world.

Congratulations to Captain Irene and let this be an encouragement for all other ladies who have set their minds on flying and making a career with Kenya’s national airline.

MH370: 10 questions that are still unresolved

From: Yona Fares Maro

As the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 continues in the southern Indian Ocean, some key questions remain unanswered.

Here are 10 questions about what happened to the Boeing 777 that disappeared after leaving Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing on 8 March, with 239 people on board.

1. Why did the plane make a sharp left turn?

Military radar logs show flight MH370 turned unexpectedly west when it diverted from its planned flight path, by which time the plane’s transponder had already been switched off, and its last ACARS datalink transmission sent.

Sudden turns like this are “extremely rare”, according to Dr Guy Gratton of Brunel University’s Flight Safety Lab. He says the only real reason pilots are likely to make such a manoeuvre is if there’s a serious problem on the plane which makes them decide to divert to a different destination, to get the aircraft on the ground.

That could be a fire or sudden decompression, according to David Barry, an expert on flight data monitoring at Cranfield University.

Malicious intent – by a pilot or intruder – is another possibility.

But unless the “black box” flight recorders are found, whatever happened in the cockpit at that moment will remain in the realms of speculation.

2. Is it reasonable to speculate that a pilot could have intended to kill himself?

There has been much speculation in the media that suicide might have been behind the loss of the plane.

It wouldn’t be the first time it’s happened. The crashes of Egypt Air flight 990 in 1999 and Silk Air flight 185 in 1997 are both thought to have been caused deliberately by a pilot, though the view has been contested. The Aviation Safety Network says there have been eight plane crashes linked to pilot suicide since 1976.

So far, no evidence has been released from searches of the homes of Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah and his co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid that back up any similar explanation for MH370. There has been speculation that Shah may have been upset after breaking up with his wife, but there is so far no reliable source for his state of mind. It’s been reported police are still examining a flight simulator found in the captain’s home.

Barry says the apparent turning off of certain systems might give weight to the theory, but “pilot suicide is a theory like any other”. Gratton agrees. “There simply isn’t any evidence to prove or disprove it,” he says.

3. Is a hijack scenario even possible?

Airliners have been fitted with strengthened flight deck doors – intended to prevent intruders from taking control – since 9/11. David Learmount, safety editor at Flight International magazine, says they are “bulletproof” and “couldn’t be penetrated with an axe”.

Sylvia Wrigley, light aircraft pilot and author of Why Planes Crash, agrees it’s unlikely anyone would be able to force their way in. “Even if the door was being broken down, they wouldn’t be able to get in before there’d been a mayday call, unless the pilots were incapacitated,” she says.

However, one former pilot, who did not wish to be named, has suggested there is theoretically a way to disable the lock and get into the flight deck.

But in any case, however secure the door, there are times when the door is open – when a member of the crew either visits the toilet or has to check on something in the cabin. It’s always been pointed out that it would be possible to rush the cockpit when this is the case. Some airlines, including Israel’s El Al, have double doors to guard against this scenario. Gratton says there’s a procedure which requires a member of the cabin crew to guard the door when it’s opened.

But even in the event of hijackers rushing the cockpit, it would be easy for either crew member to send a distress signal.

The security of the cockpit door offers protection against intruders, but it also prevents action being taken if something does go wrong. Last month the co-pilot of an Ethiopian Airlines flight waited for the pilot to go to the toilet before hijacking the aircraft and flying it to Switzerland.

There’s also the possibility that a pilot invited a passenger in. Photographs have emerged of the co-pilot of MH370 entertaining teenage tourists in an aircraft cockpit during a previous flight.

Boeing said it would be inappropriate to comment on an ongoing investigation.

4. Is there an accidental scenario that stands up to scrutiny?

So far most theories have been based on the assumption that the communications systems and the plane’s transponder were deliberately disabled, a view endorsed by Malaysian officials.

However, Wrigley believes it’s possible a sequence of events may have taken the plane so far off course by accident. “Something could have gone wrong in stages. A fire could have taken out part of the plane, or led to some systems failing, but left the plane intact. Then there could have been decompression – not an explosive decompression, but a gradual one,” she says.

Wrigley cites the Helios Airways flight 522 which crashed into a mountain in Greece in 2005 after a loss of cabin pressure and lack of oxygen incapacitated the crew, but left the plane flying on autopilot, as an example. “I’m not saying it’s a likely scenario, but it’s not impossible,” she says.

Pilots have pointed out that one of the very first actions in many emergency drills is to send a message to air traffic control or some other form of signal. For a purely accidental scenario to make sense, whatever initial event took place must have simultaneously knocked out all regular means to communicate with the ground.

5. Why was no action taken when the plane’s transponder signal went off?

MH370’s transponder – which communicates with ground radar – was shut down as the aircraft crossed from Malaysian air traffic control into Vietnamese airspace over the South China Sea.

If a plane disappeared in Europe, Barry says someone in air traffic control would have noticed and raised the alarm pretty quickly. Gratton agrees. “In Europe handover is extremely slick.

“At the very least I’d expect air traffic controllers to try and contact a nearby aircraft to try and establish direct contact. Pilots frequently use TCAS [traffic collision avoidance system], which detects transponders of other aircraft to ensure they aren’t too close to each other,” he adds.

However Steve Buzdygan, a former BA 777 pilot, says that from memory, there’s a gap or “dead spot” of about 10 minutes in the VHF transmission before the plane would have crossed into Vietnamese airspace.

Learmount says it’s also perfectly feasible that nobody on the ground noticed the plane’s disappearance. “Malaysian air traffic control had probably handed it over to the Vietnamese and forgotten about it. There could have been a five-minute delay before anyone noticed the plane hadn’t arrived – a gap in which nobody pressed the alarm button,” he says.

Even if air traffic control did notice the plane was amiss, they wouldn’t necessarily have made it public, he adds.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam says the plane failed to check in as scheduled at 0121 with air traffic control in Ho Chi Minh City. However, an unnamed pilot flying a 777 heading for Japan says he briefly established contact with MH370 minutes after he was asked to do so by Vietnamese air traffic control.

6. Why isn’t it easier to track missing planes by military satellite?

The search effort on seas some 2,500km (1,500 miles) to the south-west of the Australian city of Perth has relied on images provided by commercial satellite companies.

Dan Schnurr, chief technology officer at Geospatial Insight, says there are 20 known satellites that have a resolution capable of obtaining these images in the “vast tracts of the ocean passing over the poles”. Of those, probably about 10 of them capture images on a daily basis.

The images are beamed down from the satellites in very near real time, and are probably on the ground within two or three hours of image capture, he says. The delay in detecting valuable images is down to the time it takes to analyse the large volume of imagery.

There are also satellite sources owned by the military and government, but these have not been prominent in the search. This has led to some speculation that the fate of the plane was known about earlier in the search, but not revealed.

Laurence Gonzales, author of flight 232: A Story of Disaster and Survival, says some nations are bound to have more sophisticated surveillance systems than they are letting on. “A very small, fast ballistic missile can be picked up easily, so how can they lose a big, slow-moving object like a jumbo jet? It tells me somewhere in the angles of power in the world someone knows where the plane is but doesn’t want to talk about it, probably for reasons of national security because they don’t want to reveal the sophistication of the material they have… that their satellite technology is so good it can read a label on a golf ball,” he says.

But Gratton says military satellites looking for ballistic missiles probably wouldn’t have thrown up much useful data because they wouldn’t have been calibrated to pick up aircraft of this size.

“This aircraft was seven miles up and travelled at three-quarters of the speed of sound. Ballistic missiles go up to four or five times the speed of sound, and 30 to 50 miles up – they have very different profiles,” he says.

7. Did the plane glide into the sea or plunge after running out of fuel?

The MH370’s final moments seem to depend on whether the plane was still being flown by a pilot.

“If it was under control, the plane was capable of being glided. The Airbus that went into the New York’s Hudson River lost both engines – which is an identical outcome to running out of fuel – and the pilot managed to land on the water,” Gratton says.

Barry agrees there could have been a gentle descent. “Aircraft of this size will normally fly or glide over 50 miles before they hit the sea if they run out of fuel,” he says. However, if no-one was at the controls, he says the descent could have been “pretty severe”.

8. Would the passengers have known something was wrong?

If a major malfunction had not occurred, it is unclear whether passengers would have known anything was awry, especially if there were no obvious signs of a struggle onboard. Joe Pappalardo, senior editor at Popular Mechanics magazine, says in most scenarios where a plane flies off course for hours, passengers can remain oblivious. At 01:00, many would probably have been asleep. In the morning, the astute might have worked out the Sun was in the wrong position.
Malaysian authorities have said the plane rose to 45,000ft, before falling to 23,000ft, after it changed course. If that’s the case, passengers might have felt the loss of altitude, according to Pappalardo.

However one theory is that the plane’s apparent climb could have been designed to induce hypoxia – oxygen deprivation – which could have knocked people unconscious and even killed them.

Wrigley thinks it could have played out in one of two ways. “In the horror story version passengers would have realised something was wrong as the plane climbed – and a decompression event would have led to oxygen masks coming down, and an awareness that oxygen was limited. A better scenario is they didn’t know anything had happened until impact,” she says.

9. Why didn’t passengers use their mobile phones?

One commonly asked question is why, if it had been obvious something was wrong, passengers wouldn’t have used mobile phones to call relatives and raise the alarm. This seems especially puzzling in light of the example of United flight 93, where passengers communicated with people on the ground after the plane was hijacked during 9/11.

It’s been stated that it’s extremely unlikely that anyone could get mobile signal on an airliner at 30,000ft. Barry agrees the chances of a mobile phone working on the plane were “virtually impossible”. “It can be hard to get a signal on a remote road, let alone seven miles up, away from mobile phone masts, travelling at 500mph,” he says.

10. Why can’t planes be set up to give full real-time data to a satellite?

Arguably the most baffling thing to a layperson about the disappearance of MH370 is how it is even possible for a plane of this size to disappear so easily. In an era when people are used to being able to track a stolen smartphone, it’s perplexing that switching off a couple of systems can apparently allow an airliner to vanish.

Barry says the technology exists to allow planes to give off full real-time data. The problem is planes are “snapshots in time from when they are designed”.

“We’re doing research into devices that will allow aircraft to start transmitting information by satellite when something unusual like a fire or decompression happens, but it’s hard to fit things into a plane retrospectively.

“The 777 went into service in the early 90s… the technology is of that era,” he says.

However, Gratton says ACARS would have done the job if it hadn’t been turned off. A more complex satellite system would also be open to that risk, he argues, unless the industry wanted to go with a system that couldn’t be manually switched off, and that would come with other risks.

“It’s not a particularly easy question. Is the bigger risk an aircraft going missing, or electronics overheating? Both situations can’t be met,” he says.

– See more at

Thai Air Force radar might have tracked missing MH370

From: Abdalah Hamis

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Ten days after a Malaysian jetliner disappeared, Thailand’s military said Tuesday it saw radar blips that might have been from the missing plane but didn’t report it “because we did not pay attention to it.”

Search crews from 26 countries, including Thailand, are looking for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which vanished early March 8 with 239 people aboard en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Frustration is growing among relatives of those on the plane at the lack of progress in the search.

Aircraft and ships are scouring two giant arcs of territory amounting to the size of Australia — half of it in the remote waters of the southern Indian Ocean.

Cmdr. William Marks, a spokesman for the U.S. 7th Fleet, said finding the plane was like trying to locate a few people somewhere between New York and California.

Early in the search, Malaysian officials said they suspected the plane backtracked toward the Strait of Malacca, just west of Malaysia. But it took a week for them to confirm Malaysian military radar data suggesting that route.

Military officials in neighboring Thailand said Tuesday their own radar showed an unidentified plane, possibly Flight 370, flying toward the strait beginning minutes after the Malaysian jet’s transponder signal was lost.

Air force spokesman Air Vice Marshal Montol Suchookorn said the Thai military doesn’t know whether the plane it detected was Flight 370.

Thailand’s failure to quickly share possible information about the plane may not substantially change what Malaysian officials now know, but it raises questions about the degree to which some countries are sharing their defense data. At a minimum, safety experts said, the radar data could have saved time and effort that was initially spent searching the South China Sea, many miles from the Indian Ocean.

“It’s tough to tell, but that is a material fact that I think would have mattered,” said John Goglia, a former member of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.

“It’s just bizarre they didn’t come forward before,” Scott Hamilton, managing director of aviation consultancy Leeham Co., said of Thai authorities. “It may be too late to help the search … but maybe them and the Malaysian military should do joint military exercises in incompetence.”

Flight 370 took off from Kuala Lumpur at 12:40 a.m. March 8 and its transponder, which allows air traffic controllers to identify and track it, ceased communicating at 1:20 a.m.

Montol said that at 1:28 a.m., Thai military radar “was able to detect a signal, which was not a normal signal, of a plane flying in the direction opposite from the MH370 plane,” back toward Kuala Lumpur. The plane later turned right, toward Butterworth, a Malaysian city along the Strait of Malacca. The radar signal was infrequent and did not include data such as the flight number.

When asked why it took so long to release the information, Montol said, “Because we did not pay any attention to it. The Royal Thai Air Force only looks after any threats against our country.” He said the plane never entered Thai airspace and that Malaysia’s initial request for information in the early days of the search was not specific.

“When they asked again and there was new information and assumptions from (Malaysian) Prime Minister Najib Razak, we took a look at our information again,” Montol said. “It didn’t take long for us to figure out, although it did take some experts to find out about it.”

The search area for the plane initially focused on the South China Sea. Pings that a satellite detected from the plane hours after its communications went down eventually led authorities to concentrate instead on two vast arcs — one into Central Asia and the other into the Indian Ocean.

Malaysia said over the weekend the loss of communications and change in the aircraft’s course were deliberate, whether it was the pilots or others aboard who were responsible.

Malaysian police are considering the possibility of hijacking, sabotage, terrorism or issues related to the mental health of the pilots or anyone else on board, but have yet to say what they have uncovered.

Investigators had pointed to a sequence of events in which two communications systems were disabled in succession — one of them before a voice from the cockpit gave an all-clear message to ground controllers — as evidence of a deliberate attempt to fly the plane off-course in a hard-to-detect way. On Monday, they backtracked on the timing of the first switch-off, saying it was possible that both were cut around the same time, leading to new speculation that some kind of sudden mechanical or electrical failure might explain the flight going off-course.

Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said some sort of problem aboard the plane was not out of the question, although he noted it still was intact enough to send a signal to a satellite several hours later.

As further confirmation that someone was still guiding the plane after it disappeared from civilian radar, airline pilots and aviation safety experts said an onboard computer called the flight management system would have to be deliberately programmed in order to follow the route taken by the plane as described by Malaysian authorities.

“If you are going to fly the airplane to a waypoint that is not a straight … route to Beijing, and you were going to command the flight management computer and the autopilot system, you really have to know how to fly the airplane,” said John Gadzinski, a U.S. Boeing 737 captain.

“If you were a basic flight student and I put you in an airborne 777 and gave you 20 minutes of coaching, I could have you turn the airplane left and right and the auto throttle and the autopilot would make the airplane do what you want,” he said. “But to program a waypoint into the flight management computer, if that is what they flew over, is a little bit harder.”

Investigators have asked security agencies in countries with passengers on board to carry out background checks.

China said background checks of the 154 Chinese citizens on board turned up no links to terrorism, apparently ruling out the possibility that Uighur Muslim militants who have been blamed for terror attacks within China might have been involved.

“So far there is nothing, no evidence to suggest that they intended to do harm to the plane,” said Huang Huikang, China’s ambassador to Malaysia.

A Chinese civilian aviation official has said there was no sign of the plane entering the country’s airspace on commercial radar.

A group of relatives of Chinese passengers in Beijing said they decided to begin a hunger strike to express their anger over the handling of the investigation.

One relative displayed a sign reading, “Hunger strike protest. Respect life. Return my relative. Don’t want become victim of politics, Tell the truth.”

The search for the aircraft is among the largest in aviation history.

The U.S. Navy said P-3 and P-8 surveillance aircraft were methodically sweeping over swaths of ocean, known as “mowing the grass,” while using radar to detect any debris in the water and high-resolution cameras to snap images.

Australian and Indonesian planes and ships are searching waters to the south of Indonesia’s Sumatra Island all the way down to the southern reaches of the Indian Ocean.

Huang said China had begun searching for the plane in its territory, but gave no details. When asked at a Foreign Ministry briefing in Beijing what this search involved, ministry spokesman Hong Lei said only that satellites and radar were being used.

China also was sending ships to the Indian Ocean, where they will search 300,000 square kilometers (186,000 square miles) of sea.

The area being covered by the Australians is even bigger — 600,000 square kilometers (232,000 square miles) — and will take weeks, said John Young, manager of Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s emergency response division.

“This search will be difficult. The sheer size of the search area poses a huge challenge,” Young said. “A needle in a haystack remains a good analogy.”

Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron telephoned his Malaysian counterpart to offer the U.K.’s help in the first direct contact between the two since the flight disappeared, according to Downing Street.

Cameron did not offer specifics on what particular military or civilian assistance could be provided, the prime minister’s spokesman, Jean-Christophe Gray, said Tuesday.

“It was very much inviting any specific requests from the Malaysians,” Gray said. “Prime Minister Najib said he would think about that and let us know if they have any specific requests.”

– See more at:

Press Releases from Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET-815 of 18 December 2013

From: Abdalah Hamis

Update 1 – 19 December, 2013

Ethiopian Airlines would like to refute all unfounded speculations regarding the incident of Ethiopian flight ET-815 from Addis Ababa to Kilimanjaro of 18 December 2013. Such unfounded speculations are against international procedure and practice of incident investigation and communications.

Although Ethiopian Airlines should strictly follow the international procedures and will not make pre-judgmental statements before the incident is fully investigated by relevant and competent authorities, there was miscommunication between the control tower and the flying crew, which resulted in landing at Arusha airport. The aircraft had adequate fuel to fly to an approved alternate airport.

All passengers and crew were unharmed and have been taken to their intended destinations. The aircraft did not sustain any damage.

Ethiopian Airlines would like to apologize to its esteemed passengers for the inconveniences caused.

Kenya & USA: FBI agents, police pursue three theories in Jomo Kenyatta International Airport fire probe

From: Judy Miriga

Kenya is moving forward…….never backwards…… Land Grabbing and Decolonization must be fought in all fronts……

Cheers !!!

Judy Miriga
Diaspora Spokesperson
Executive Director
Confederation Council Foundation for Africa Inc.,

– – – – – – – – – – –

FBI agents, police pursue three theories in Jomo Kenyatta International Airport fire probe

Updated Thursday, August 8th 2013 at 22:07 GMT +3

Senior criminal investigation offi cials scour the scene of Wednesday’s fire Thursday. [PHOTOS: WILBERFORCE OKWIRI/STANDARD]

NAIROBI; KENYA: Detectives probing the Wednesday blaze that brought down the main terminal at Kenya’s biggest airport are not ruling out terrorism or arson, although they say it could have been an accident.

President Kenyatta chaired a meeting of the country’s top security organ to discuss the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport ( JKIA) fire tragedy as it emerged investigators were pursuing all three theories.

On Thursday the probe took on an international feel as three FBI agents sent by the US embassy in Nairobi joined the investigating team a day after President Obama called President Kenyatta to offer his government’s support following the fire.

Officially, authorities say it is not yet clear what caused the fire that prompted the closure of the busiest airport in East and Central Africa for most of Wednesday.

Over 200 people, among them 60 Kenya Airport Authority (KAA) workers, have recorded statements as the probe intensifies.

Huge losses

Yesterday, President Kenyatta called a meeting of the National Security Council to discuss the tragedy that has occasioned huge economic losses following the disruption to cargo and passenger flights.

Deputy President William Ruto, all heads of the country’s security agencies, and Cabinet Secretaries in charge of Security and Infrastructure attended the meeting at State House, Nairobi. Details of the meeting were scanty, but officials said the crisis at JKIA was extensively discussed and the President briefed on progress in investigations.

At JKIA, head of the ATPU Boniface Mwaniki led the probe as detectives searched for clues in the fire-damaged section of the airport. The FBI agents arrived carrying special equipment to back up their Kenyan counterparts with their expertise, in a joined bid to unearth the cause of the inferno.

The agents took away samples from the scene for further analysis and tests.

Investigators were also reviewing images on the closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras to examine events before and after the fire broke out, as part of their investigations. It was not immediately clear if the entire sequence of events was captured on the surveillance cameras.

Apart from the ATPU, officers from the Bomb Disposal Unit, Kenya Airports Police Unit, Nairobi County and CID headquarters were helping with the probe.

Personnel from the National Intelligence Service, Kenya Power Company personnel, the City Council of Nairobi Fire Department and investigators from insurance companies were also at the scene.

The detectives have taken over a bar at the airport and turned it into an interrogation room where witnesses are recording statements.

Officials said some of the staff said in their statements that they heard two explosions after smoke started billowing out.

The explosions, according to those who have been questioned, were not very powerful or loud, with suggestions and they may have been caused by air conditioners.

Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau and CID Director Ndegwa Muhoro confirmed the arrival of the FBI agents to assist in the probe.

“We wish to express our appreciation and gratitude for the support we have received from other governments around the world and our development partners,” said Kamau.

On Thursday, controversy raged over where the fire started as witness accounts contradicted the official position that the fire broke out atin the immigration area.

There were suggestions that the huge inferno may have been occasioned by naked electric wires left in one of the 56 shops pulled down by the Government as it ejected duty free shop operators last week.

Insiders and firemen who spoke to The Standard claimed the fire could have been triggered by an electric fault from one of the duty free shops.

“There were some cables that were left naked. The power was cut off in some of the shops and was left on in others. This is exactly what I told the investigation team when they grilled me this morning,” said one of the employees.

But the Government has maintained that the shops were 50 metres away. “The fire came from the immigration section after the bridges, the second desk after immigration which is nearest to unit 1. The duty free shops are more than 50 metres apart and I do not see any relationship between the demolitions and the fire,” Kamau said on Wednesday.

On Thursday, minimal operations resumed at JKIA with the Government indicating they expected full operations by midnight.

The State also opened up the excusive Presidential Pavilion, usually reserved for visiting heads of states, for use by travellers to help ease the crisis. Kamau indicated that full operations would resume at the airport from midnight on Thursday.

“We want to assure all travellers within the country that even though the level of comfort is not what they would expect, we want to reassure them of their security and safety,” he said. Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) confirmed that other international airlines can use JKIA under advice, added Kamau.

National carrier Kenya Airways had already lined up 17 international flights throughout Thursday to various capitals across the globe.

Trans-Nzoia County governor told to stop land grabbing
Updated Thursday, August 8th 2013 at 23:01 GMT +3

Trans-Nzoia County: The business community in Trans-Nzoia County has pressed authorities to repossess 100 acres of grabbed land earmarked for the Kenya Industrial Estate ( KIE).

The Trans-Nzoia Kenya National Commerce and Industry branch said it would institute legal action on behalf of residents to sue people behind the illegal allocation of prime plots in Kitale.

The branch’s Executive Officer Martin Waliaula said the economic activities in the county have grounded because land meant for them has been grabbed.

Speaking in Kitale yesterday, Mr Waliula asked the county leadership led by Governor Patrick Khaemba to reclaim the grabbed land.

“The normal stories that the government is going to recover grabbed land should be made a reality. The rampant grabbing has hampered economic activities. We want all public assets taken by individuals repossessed,” he demanded.

Condemning the grabbing of the KIE land meant for industrialisation programmes, the officials said the Chamber will move to court to revert the land to its intended purpose.

“We cannot allow developers to benefit at the expense of many unemployed youths. We are ready to face these individuals and recover the land,” he said.

He said a survey done by the Chamber had indicated only 15 acres had been spared from the initial parcel reserved for industrialisation purposes.

Tanzania under heavy pressure from environmentalists to shelve its plan to construct an international airport inside the Serengeti world heritage site

Writes Leo Odera Omolo

INFORMATION emerging from Dar Es Salaam says the United Republic of Tanzania is facing renewed pressure to shelve the construction of an International Airport next to the world heritage and famous Serengeti National Game Park, creating fears of possible delays in the multibillion dollar project.

THE Deputy Transport Minister Charles Tizeba was last week widely quoted by the local media houses as saying that the construction of the airport outside the Serengeti National Game Park is likely to fail because of an on-going campaign by environmentalists to stop the project.

“The government is facing real pressure from some circles, but it will go ahead despite all these,’ he said.

The construction of the USD 350 million airports was expected to start early this year and the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority had approved the project, he added.

The government move to put up the airport included the construction of a 321 kilometer tarmac road through Serengeti. This element was shelved over the concerns that it would interfere with the wildebeest migration, the only one of its kind in the world and crucial to the existence of the Serengeti ecosystem.

The friends of the Serengeti movement have repeatedly denounced having an airport so close to the world heritage site, saying it would attract human activities near the fragile Serengeti-Mara ecosystem.

Opponents of the project have maintained an argent saying that the landing and takeoff of large planes in Mugumu could damage wildlife migration patterns.

“The new airport”, said the Minister, “would offer tourists the option tour KilimanjaroIntrnational Airport and after visiting Tarangire.LakeManyara, Ngorngoro Crater and SERENGETI International Airport to fly back homer”.

Analyists,however, say the airport would increase the number of visitors from 800,000 annually to 1.6 million by the year 2015 and double tourism revenue from the current USD 1.4 million to USD 2.8 million annually in the next three years.


Kenya: The new Kisumu International Airport is complete and ready to accommodate big planes

Writes Leo Odera Omolo In Kisumu City

BUSINESS people as well as horticultural farmers in Western Kenya have good reasons to smile for the Kisumu Airport is complete and ready to handle more passengers and cargoes.

The Kshs 3.3 billion new facilities are ready for use. The extended Kisumu Airport now confirmed that the lakeside city is the true gate away to East Africa.

The horticultural farmers and exporters now stand to benefit a great deal because the facility will now offer them quick aerial shipment of their products to any destination in the world.

THE Kisumu Airport manager Mr Joseph Okumu told newsmen that the airport is now ready to welcome receive and see big planes.

”We have already shifted our operations to the new terminal. All the airlines currently flying Kisumu route have been allocated new offices at the new terminal. There are still more spaces for new airlines expected to come.”

The Kisumu Airport whose upgrading work started in 2008 will now be able to accommodate big planes like the giant Boeing 737.

The new facility boast modern control tower and terminal with several lounges for arrivals and departure, cargo handling facilities, the passengers cafeteria, VIP lounge and offices. The airport will also later this month, have new international departure and landing facilities.

The manager revealed that the terminal facility is already attracting inquiries from airlines keen on using Kisumu route to international destinations.

He further disclosed that direct flight from Johannesburg in South Africa will soon be operational. Currently the airport has three international routes which are operational. These include Kisumu-Entebbe, Kisumu -Musoma, Kisumu-Mwanza and Kisumu -Addis Ababa.

The completion of the Kisumu Airport now makes it Kenya’s fourth international airport after Nairobi’s Jommo Kenyatta International airport , Moi International Airport at Mombasa and Eldoret international airport at Eldoret.

Business people in Kisumu and its environs have expressed their gratefulness and hoped the expanded facility will now opens the way for investors and particularly the revival of the forty five year old sleeping Western Kenya Tourist Circuit, which was launched in 1967, but which has remained in the drawing board ever since.

Currently fish and flowers from the Western Kenya regions are transported by road to Nairobi resulting in many losses in terms of time lost, wastage and added transportation costs.

For the much expected improvement in tourists visiting the region, the business community in Kisumu Town have successfully put up dozens of medium sizes luxury hotels making he City to be self-sufficiency in hotels.

Apart from the Imperial, Sunset and New Kisumu Hotels, there are several new facilities such as the Great Lakes Hotel, Kisumu City Royals.Lakers,Vunduba, Lakeview. There are close to seven new medium size hotels led by Kisumu Milimani Resort and others ready to supplement the hotel bed accommodation in the town.


Kenya: Finally, Kisumu International Airport set for Global TakeOff

from Lee Makwiny

The third busiest airport in Kenya has seen a transformation from domestic to international standards, raising hopes it will spur regional economic growth and lower the historic poverty levels.

The airport’s apron has also been expanded, and a new terminus that can attend to up to 700 passengers per hour was built. The terminal has the ability to check in passengers for eight flights simultaneously.

Although the airport was intended to be completed in 22 months, construction works were delayed due to constant wrangles between the Kenya Airports Authority and members of the clan, who live in areas surrounding the airport.

The completion of the construction works at the airport sparks new hopes for investors in the western region, who are optimistic that the expansion and upgrading to international standards will boost the region’s economy by opening up new business opportunities.

Farmers and businessmen have started introducing new crops, products and investments in preparation for the commissioning of the airport and introduction of cargo flights.

Earlier this month, the authority unveiled a new raft of investment opportunities, which included provision of aviation fuel, ground handling services and the management of an automated car park.

“We are now focusing on enhancing new business opportunities and encouraging people to open up more,” KAA managing director Stephen Gichuki said during a stake holder’s business forum in the lake side city.

After commissioning, Kisumu International Airport will have large aircraft like the Boeing B737 and B767 landing safely.

The third busiest airport in the country has recorded steady growth in passenger numbers. In December last year, passenger numbers increased to 24,271 up from 16,989 in 2009.

The expansion which has lasted two years is expected to offer an estimated 30,000 jobs and boost bilateral trade.

Apart from the direct earning expected from businesses and employment, Nyanza Province and the whole of western region expects to receive a higher number of domestic and foreign tourists.

Locals also enjoy enhanced security while value for land adjacent to the facility has appreciated tremendously.

Several construction projects have also sprung up around the facility while numerous hotels have been built or are under construction within and around the lake side city.

Even nearby towns like Ahero are now feeling the growth ahead of the commissioning of the new facility which will greatly open up the region for serious business with the rest of the world. Fish, horticultural products will now be exported directly to Europe and other world markets.

During a visit to the facility earlier this month however, the PS Cyrus Njiru of the Ministry of Transport said that the facility will not hold cargo flights yet, but collaboration between several stake holders would speed up cargo handling facilities and the emergence of cargo flights.

“The second phase of the airport expansion will concentrate on handling cargo flights, being the biggest need of the area that requires economic growth and poverty eradication” Mr Njiru said.

“We can now proudly say that the airport expansion and upgrading has been successful despite the various challenges that the Ministry and the Kenya Airports Authority faced” Mr Njiru said.

The PS attributed the delay in completion to the need to meet international standards and expectations of travellers, now that the facility was being transformed.

“The government needed to deliver a fist class international airport and fit it in the class stipulated by Vision 2030,” Mr Njiru said.


BY Dickens Wasonga.

The 3 billion shillings Kisumu International Airport upgrading project whose construction attracted a lot of controversy three years ago when it was launched will now be officially operational by the end of May this year.

This follows the successful completion of the upgrading works carried out by the China Overseas Engineering Company COVEC, which won the tender in October 2008 to do the project funded by the government of Kenya and the World Bank. It was expected to last just 22 months.

Local MPs led by the transport minister Amos Kimunya tours the facility last year.

Giving highlights of the progress of the project so far to journalists in Kisumu the Airport manager Mr. Joseph Okumu said the project delayed by a few months after the initial works which included extension of the current runway by just a kilometer to two was changed to 3.3 kilometers by 45 meters wide.

Mr. Okumu said even the terminal building which was originally designed to have just the ground floor was modified to include mezzanine floor in order to accommodate more passengers and give room for additional commercial opportunities that will come with the new facility.

According to him, a lot of improvement works was undertaken alongside the main project. He gave the example of the improved navigation facilities which saw a state of the art -very high Omni directional Radio Range facility installed.

In order to fit into its new international status, the airport administration has been organizing a lot of training of the personnel at the facility.

Recently over ten of its crew drawn from the fire and rescue departments were taken through a course on diving skills.

Procedures have also been enhanced to meet set standards and the facility now have a marine rescue committee and not long ago it put to test its emergency procedures by holding an emergency drill where all the relevant agencies participated.

The manager added that all the airport staff have also undertaken a cause on safety and security awareness and were now better prepared to handle safety and security concerns of the passengers whose numbers are expected to rise soon.

The airport has a capacity to handle 3000,000 passengers per year at the moment but it will handle additional 2million passengers for a similar period upon upgrading.

When complete the new terminal will be handling both domestic and international passengers of an estimated 700 per hour.

Growth in number of passenger has been witnessed since the upgrading began at the airport and today it has daily flights to Mwanza and Entebbe together with an increased chartered operator flights.

Jet link, Fly 540 operating in conjunction with East Africa Safaris Express and national carrier Kenya Airways currently has scheduled fights.

The Jet Link plane during the launch of additional flights to Mwanza and Entebbe late last year.

‘’They have all increased their frequency with Jet link operating 6 flights daily, KQ 4 and Fly 540 doing 3’’ said Okumu.

Amongst other facilities the new terminal will have dedicated water and power supply system and a state of the art stand by generators.

Modern safety and security equipment, modern passenger processing facilities, business class lounges, and self service customer kiosks for departing clients will be available.

Aircraft hanger for maintenance of aircraft which was previously lacking will also be included and taxi operators and other motorists will now enjoy automated car park facilities.

Air craft such as Boeng 767 or Airbus 300 and 310 will now be able to land or take off at the upgraded facility.

There will be several business and rental opportunities which will be offered to interested business people in competitive tenders. The Kenya Airports Authority will soon advertise the opportunities to the public through the local dailies.

The opportunities will include ground handling cargo transit sheds, fuel firms, car park management, airport advertising and flying schools. Others will include duty free shops, restaurants amongst others.

A lot of jobs will therefore be created directly or indirectly to several jobless people not only in Kisumu but throughout the region.

The manager disclosed that more airport staff will be hired by KAA. Some will be absorbed to work as customer service personnel, safety and security staff, operational and maintenance staff, etc.

‘’We expect to have more airline staff, more taxi operators while parastatal and other government ministries or agencies such as KRA, immigration, KEBS will now have to post their teams here. Horticultural companies, additional health staff and medical personnel, more caterers and ground handling staff will be required’’ he added.

People have already reaping huge benefits from the airport project which initially faced a stiff opposition from the members of Kogony clan on whose land the upgrading work were to be done.

Many have since been compensated for the land acquired by the project and some now live in permanent houses constructed from the proceeds of the sale of land.

Locals also enjoy enhanced security while value for land adjacent to the facility has appreciated tremendously. Several construction projects have also sprung up around the facility while numerous hotels have been built or are under construction within and around the lake side city.

Even the sate light towns as far as Ahero are now feeling the growth ahead of the commissioning of the new facility which will greatly open up the region for serious business undertakings with the rest of the world. Fish, horticultural products will now be exported directly to Europe and other world markets.

Other beneficiaries are those currently residing in sprawling Kisumu slum areas of Bandani, Riat, Obunga and Otonglo which neighbor the airport which are currently under slum upgrading program.

A modern school is being established at Usoma. The modern primary school with a capacity of 500 pupils is near completion and was built at a cost of KSH 20 million from KAA. Its second phase will cost slightly more.

Access road is also under construction to link the airport and the Kisian junction and will help to rehabilitate the now dilapidated section between Kisian and Otonglo.

‘’This facility will be an added advantage in several fronts. It will be a major economic boost not only to the people around here but even into the national economy.

Tourism will get a boost as well as more international visitors land to sample the local culture and tour some of the numerous attraction sites within the western Kenya tourism circuit.’’ Said Okumu.


Tanzania: Explosions at the Tanzanian Military ammunition depot caused big loses to airlines

News Analysis By Leo Odera Omolo.

DETAILS of information emerging from the Tanzanian capital, Dar Es Salaam say several international airlines may be headed for more than millions in suspension related losses as series of explosions two weeks ago triggered flight cancellation following the closure of Julius Nyerere International Airport.

The government is reported to have already launched investigations into the series of explosions at the Tanzania People’s Defense Forces {UPDF} ammunition depot sin Dar Es Salaam that forced international airlines to cancel all flights to Tanzania.

The Supreme Security Council the country’s top military security organ under the Commander-In-Chief was reported last week to have held an emergency security meeting in the capital and deliberated on the issue.

Tanzania has also tightened security along its borders with the neighboring countries on the land and on its Indian Ocean coastline.

The 22 ammunition depots in the army Gondo La Mboto military camp caused the death of at least 30 people, with many more left injured.

Planes belonging to Swissair, Egypt Airlines, South African Airways, Precision Air Services, and Fly540 were among those grounded at the international airport pending further information from the military as City’s sky was lit up by flying debris and missiles.

All the incoming flights were being diverted, either to Nairobi, Mombasa, Kilimanjaro International Airport in Arusha, or to Zanzibar airport, during the night hours as explosion rocked the city near the international airport.

Debris showered parts of the city up to 15 kilometers from the Gongo La Mboto military bases, which is located in the outskirt of Dar Es Salaam. It was the second such military accident in recent times, after another explosion at Mbagala Military base in 2009 in which 20 people including four military officers lost their lives.

A Turkey Airlines and Precision Air flights were last week diverted to Nairobi whereas a KLM was sent to Kilimanjaro Airport in Arusha. A plane belonging to Comair flight, a subsidiary of the British Airways flying in from South Africa was forced to return to South Africa, Ethiopia Airline and Qatar Airlines cancelled all the flights to Tanzania pending safety assurances from the Tanzanian government.

The TPDF’s Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen Abdulrahaman Shimba was quoted as saying that that the army had yet to establish the root cause of the explosions, adding that the authorities have started investigations into the cause of the explosion and the extent of it caused o the army and to the public.

The ammunition depot explosions, started on Wednesday evening in a series of blasts which leveled homes and destroyed many properties.

The Prime Minister Mizengo Pindo went on the air and said that several homes and a school were leveled. He added that at least 4,000 people have been rendered homeless and were still sheltering at the Uhuru National Stadium.

Army ammunition depots explosion have occurred in the past in the United Kingdom, Russia, Brazil, Nigeria and Pakistan.

According to military experts, the causes of such accidents include design faults, poor storage control, movement of ammunition, equipment failures, in-service deterioration, errors in building and errors in drill.

In 2002 an accident at ammunition depot at the Ekeja military base caused series of explosions, sending fireballs into the sky over Nigeria’s commercial capital. Lagos. The blast rocked the outskirts of the northern port city and shattering windows in buildings several kilometers away and caused a lot of panic.

In 2009 at least eight people were killed in an explosion at the arsenal 31 ammunition depot on the outskirt of Ulyanovost, 900 km south of Moscow, Russian.


China & Canada: Even Kabuga could be walking around a free man

From: Eric Wabwaya Mburi

Canadian authorities were trying to determine on Friday how a man believed to be in his 20s was able to board a flight in Hong Kong to Vancouver having disguised himself as an elderly passenger

The young man, who was arrested when he arrived in Canada, boarded an Air Canada flight on October 29 wearing a realistic silicon head and neck mask that made him appear elderly, according to media reports and photographs.

A spokesman for Canada’s public safety minister confirmed the incident but declined further comment. The man requested asylum in Canada when he arrived, which prevents officials from disclosing his name or where he is from. He is now being held in custody.

The man was able to board the flight apparently without a passport or any other documents with a picture or date of birth. He carried the boarding pass of a U.S. citizen who was booked on the flight.
Although the young man is of Asian origin, the intricate disguise made him look like a very elderly Caucasian.

“It is believed that the subject and the actual United States citizen passenger, whose date of birth is 1955, performed a boarding pass swap,” according to a Canadian Border Services Agency security alert obtained by CNN.

An Air Canada spokesman said the issue was under investigation by Canadian authorities, but said there are multiple identification checks for passengers in Hong Kong – including one by the Chinese government.

Transport Canada is investigating if screening regulations were broken. It is the responsibility of airlines to verify the identity of passengers who appear to be 18 years or older before they are allowed on the aircraft.

“That means air carriers are supposed to look at a passenger’s entire face to determine if they appear to be over 18 and if so, compare their physical appearance with their travel documents,” said John Babcock, a spokesman for Transport Minister Chuck Strahl.

The man went into the airplane toilet midway through the flight and removed his disguise, according to the CBSA alert which noted the impostor did not attempt to disguise the age of his hands.

A search of the man’s luggage uncovered gloves and a “disguise kit,” according to the alert.
(Reporting Allan Dowd; editing by Rob Wilson)


Uganda: Mseveni intervene and stopped the sale of the land of the Soroti Flying School

Writes Leo Odera Omolo

PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni has stopped the sale of land belonging to the East African Civil Aviation Academy (Soroti Flying School).The NEWVISION reported this morning.

The aviation school is the proiperty of the East African Community.It was established in the late 1960s by the defunct first East African Community, which collaosed in 1977 following sharp political and ideoilogical differences between the presidents of Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya at the time,

The land has been under dispute between the academy and the Uganda Land Commission. While the academy argues that it needs the land to expand, the commission went ahead with the sale.

“We have plans to lengthen the runway, which is now 1,800 metres. We need it for our aviation plans,” Museveni told a gathering at the academy on Wednesday.

The Government plans to rehabilitate and upgrade four airfields into airports. They are Soroti, Gulu, Kasese and Arua. A new airport is to be built in Ntugamo at Rwentobo, Museveni said.

“Going through Entebbe interferes with business, especially when somebody is in a national park like Kabalega and has to come to Kampala (to fly out), instead of Gulu. Uganda is developing fast, exports will pick up. We need to expand air infrastructure.”

The President, who launched six new Skyhawk aircraft, said training pilots is expensive, especially in Africa, where training facilities are inadequate and most governments invest little money in it.

“The weaknesses come because some ministries don’t know how to prioritise. There is no money to cover all matters but when it comes to prioritisation, there is no way we can fail to rehabilitate an academy like this one. The academy will be rehabilitated and developed fully,” he announced.

He said pilots for civilian airlines and for the army are on high demand and advised the trainees to be disciplined and avoid alcohol and prostitutes.

According to the academy’s acting director, B.D. Wandera, sh17.5b is needed for basic rehabilitation and re-quipping the school.

He said the academy had got six new single-engine aircraft and was replacing old asbestos roofing with pre-painted iron sheets. Training has been hampered by inadequate funds. Night training is also impossible for lack of appropriate lighting.

The Inspectorate of Government is investigating the sale of the land. The sale came into the limelight in August when MPs from Teso sub-region petitioned the Prime Minister, Apolo Nsibambi, to halt the transaction.

In September, Nsibambi ordered the land commission to stop the sale of staff houses and land belonging to the school.

A total of 31 housing units were to be sold off. They are located on Kyoga Avenue, and on Harper, Komollo, Bisina and Esunget roads in Soroti town.


Uganda & Somolia: Museveni want Somalia to be declared no fly zone in order to curb the illegal supply of arms

Reports Leo Odera Omolo

PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni has called for a no-fly zone to be imposed over Somalia in a bid to curb the influx of arms and the terrorism activities in the war-torn country.

The President made the call yesterday during a closed-door meeting with the 15-nation team from the UN Security Council.

He proposed that the no-fly zone be enforced by the big powers which have aircraft carriers based in the Indian Ocean.

“If such a move is implemented, it will reduce the influx of arms in Somalia by over 70%,” Museveni reportedly told the delegation. The delegation was led by Uganda’s permanent representative to the UN Security Council, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda.

Museveni also told the delegation that the countries that are willing and capable to send troops to the Horn of African county should be supported, and that those which cannot provide troops should fund the operation.

He reportedly told the meeting that the insurgencies fighting the African Union Peacekeeping Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) are not Somalis but al Qaeda insurgents from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen.

At a press conference after the meeting, Museveni reiterated Uganda’s commitment to send more troops to Somalia.

Museveni (centre) with the security council team and Ugandan government officials at State House, Entebbe

He said it was the duty of the international community to help Somalia regain its sovereignty.
The President called for financial support to increase troop levels in the AMISOM. Uganda and Burundi are the only countries that have contributed troops to Somalia, with Uganda contributing the highest number.
“The number of troops is not the problem. If there is everything we need, we can raise the number but they (rich nations) must bring the money,” the President said.

The UN delegation, which was in Uganda for a one-day tour, was not specific on the kind of support it would give to AMISOM. The team later left for Sudan, where it will visit Juba, Darfur and then Khartoum.

Museveni warned the team against any delay in holding the referendum to determine the autonomy of Southern Sudan. He urged the UN to put in place the structures needed for a free and fair referendum in Sudan slated for January 2011.

“The referendum is very crucial and delaying it is highly risky. It is better to involve the UN in the organisation rather than waiting to see what happens after the results,” Museveni reportedly told the delegation.

He pointed out that the African Union did not support the International Criminal Court’s indictment of President Omar El Bashir because they thought it would jeopardise the peace process in Sudan.

Museveni also dismissed a recent UN report on DR Congo that accused Uganda of several human rights abuses and war crimes during the conflicts in the 1990s as a “concoction and lies.”

“These international groups are fictional writers. They should look for other subjects,” he said.

Museveni defended the army, saying it followed a strict code of conduct and could not torture civilians.


Uganda: New aviation office opened by EAC at Entebbe

Writes Leo Odera Omolo

As the East African Community (EAC) common market gains momentum, efforts are underway to enhance aviation security standards to boost the industry and trade in the region.

To this effect, the EAC Civil Aviation Safety and Security Oversight Agency (CASSOA) has established offices at the Entebbe International Airport to serve as a focal point for the five states in the regional trading bloc.

Kategaya (right) launches the regional aviation headquarters as Nasasira cheers David Ssempijja

CASSOA is a specialised agency that ensures the development of a safe and secure civil aviation industry in the region.

“Efforts geared towards meeting aviation safety and security will make our airports and airspace safer.

“This will attract more airline operators into the region, hence a booming regional aviation industry,” said the EAC affairs minister Eriya Kategya.

He was launching the regional headquarters at Entebbe last week. He said East Africa had a challenge of meeting the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

“As you are aware, our region’s airspace is at times regarded as insecure, especially by the western world,” he said. John Nasasira, the transport minister, and regional aviation chiefs attended the function.


Tanzania: Ten Year BAE Systems Aviation Radar Purchase scandal that just won’t go away


Investigative News Writes Leo Odera Omolo

Information emerging out of the Tanzanian capital, Dar Es Salaam says that the country is at crossroads, wondering whether to investigate afresh an international corruption case involving British arms manufacturers BAE system.

This came about after the company had allegedly admitted it was guilty of dubious financial dealings in its sale of a USD 46million Watch Air Traffic Control System to Tanzania.

BAE Systems, it was reported, admitted there were malpractices received as payment in the deal.

In its latest edition, the EASAFRICAN weekly quoted the company chairman, Mr.Dick Oliver as saying in an exclusive interview that “Under the agreement with the Serious Fraud Office {SFO}, the company will plead guilty to one charge of breach of duty to keep accounting records, in relation to payments made to a former marketing adviser in Tanzania.

“The company will pay an agreed penalty of 30 million sterling pounds {USD 46 million}, comprising of a fine to be determined by the court, and the balance as a charitable payment for the benefit of Tanzania”.

But back in Tanzania, senior officials of the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau {PCCB} and the Ministry of Justice, were reported to be tight-lipped on whether to continue with fresh investigations or not.

Last week, UK’s Serious Fraud Office {SFO} allowed BAE to plead guilty in a London court to the offence of selling to Tanzania a 28 million pounds air traffic control system, and yet requesting for USD 46 million in payment.

The SFO then dropped its charges against those involved in scandal, who included Tanzanian officials Anbdrew Chenge {then the Attorney General} business tycoon Tanil K.C Somaiya of Shivacom and one Shailesh P.Vithilan.

In court, they were accused number six, eight and nine respectively. Accused number seven is not mentioned on the charge sheet.

Mr Chenge was later appointed a minister for Infrastructure Development in the President Jakaya Kikwete administration. But he resigned after SFO implicated him in the scandal, with claims alleging that he had received 1.5 million sterling pounds from BAE as “Kick Backs”.

The World Bank and the International Civil Aviation Organization –before and after the purchase of the system –said it was unnecessarily overpriced.

The PCCB investigation was however largely dependent on SFO findings, meaning the country will have to conduct its own probe.

This viewpoint is supported by the Deputy Leader of the official opposition in the National Assembly, Dr Wilbrod Slaa. And the SFO has been actively investigating the USD 39.5 million {Tshs 53.billion} contract signed in 1999 to supply a radar system to Tanzania.

The probe also relates to payments of USD 12 million to Shailesh Vithilan, BAE’s former marketing adviser based in Dar Es Salaam.

A six year investigation by SFO identified key roles played in the radar deal by Mr.Chenge, the former AG, and Dr. Idris Rashid, the then Bank of Tanzania governor.

PCCB public Relations Officer, Doreen Kapwani, was quoted last week as saying that they were yet to issue a comprehensive statement on the matter.

Tanzania Minister for Justice, Mathias Chikawe, also declined to offer any comment. But by pleading guilty under section 221 of the companies Act,1985,BAE will not face an embarrassing court case.

Last month, Uganda civil aviation authorities demanded payment back for a dummy radar, which was purchase before the summit of the Commonwealth Head of States and Government {CHOGM] in November 2007, which has since then ceased to operate.




Business News  By Leo Odera Omolo.

Tanzanian government is reported to be eying for more bidders for its financially strapped national carrier, Air Tanzania.

The government wants it revived so that it could take advantage of the  fast growing air travels market in East, Central and Southern African regions, as well as take advantage of the exploding Chinese population in East and Central Africa.

The government has now decided to invite more international firms to vie for a stake in the ailing airline, despite having already entered the final stage of two-years negotiations with a Chinese firm, China Sonangol International Holdings, to buy a controlling stake in the ailing Air Tanzania Corporation Limited.

According to sources in Dar, the state owned national carrier last month cut its workforce by 155, amid talks of a partnership with China Sonangol. Only 182 employees remain on the job. It cited overstaffing and accumulated staff wages as the reasons for the layoffs.

The envisaged plan has been confirmed by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Infrastructure Development, Omar Chambo, in an interview published this week by the influential regional weekly, the EASFRICAN, in which he is quoted as having disclosed that talks between the government and the officials from China Sonangol International Holdings are at an “advanced stage”, without offering any further elaboration.

The PS further disclosed  that the negotiations with the Chinese firm do not bar the government from looking for other investors, and that already, several other companies have shown interest in the carrier. However, he declined to name the other firms and their number, only saying this could jeopardize the discussions.

According to Chambo, the government of Tanzania wants to see Air Tanzania revived and brought back to take advantage of the fast growing markets like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, China and Malawi.

But observers and critics alike say the government has not kept its word on giving Air Tanzania full support, since the firm broke ranks and parted ways with the South African Airline {SAA} in 2006.
Air Tanzania Corporation Ltd, formerly known as Air Tanzania Corporation, was privatized on December 2, 2002, in a deal in which SAA acquired 49 per cent shares in the firm for USD 20 million, which largely went into shareholding, with the rest going into capital and training accounts.

And last week , a US firm, Celtic Capital Corporation of Texas, said it was ready to take over the operations of Air Tanzania.

Five firms based in the US, the UK and the United Emirates have also shown interest in running the cash-strapped airline.

According to other reports, in August 2008, the Tanzania government held secret discussions with the Chinese Development Bank to sell the 49 per cent shares acquired back from SAA to a Hong Kong based private firm, with a view to reviving the ailing airline.

In the deal, China Sonangol International Holdings was expected to fund the operations of the airline that is now struggling to regain its reputation and position in the regional and international market.
The EASTAFRICAN also quoted the chairman of Sonangol International, Sam Pal as saying that China Development Bank would be funding the takeover of Air Tanzania, but bureaucracy has delayed the takeover.

Mr Pal disclosed in the report that the Sonangol has already started the construction of Terminal Three of Julius Kambarage Nyerere international Airport in Dar Es Salaam, and is working on expansion of the airport.

Sonangol said it has already bought an Embarer fleet for Air Tanzania.
China Sonangol International Holdings Holdings Ltd, which was established in 2004, mainly engages in oil, gas and mineral investment and exploration, crude oil trading and large scale national reconstruction projects.

Headquartered in Hong Kong, the company also deals in chartered airlines in Angola, the US and the UK.