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COVID: Tanzania retaliates, bans Kenya Airways from its airspace

Jomo Kenyatta airport

Jomo Kenyatta airport

The Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) has "on reciprocal basis” rescinded its approval granted to Kenya Airways to resume international flights to Tanzania.

The retaliation is a reaction to Kenya’s omission of Tanzania from the list of 16 countries allowed to resume international flights into Kenya effective August 1, 2020, since the airports' shutdown in March when the coronavirus pandemic hit East Africa. 

Kenya Transport cabinet secretary, James Macharia said flights from Uganda, Rwanda, Namibia, Morocco, Ethiopia Canada, Japan, South Korea, UAE, Qatar, Italy, UK France, Switzerland, USA (except California, Florida and Texas) can resume flying to Kenya so long as passengers arrive with PCR-based COVID-19 negative certificates and body temperature not exceeding 37.5 degrees. 

In a July 31 letter signed by the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority director general Hamza. S. Johari said Tanzania regrets to nullify its approval for Kenya Airways flights between Nairobi and Dares Salam, Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar effective August 1 until further notice.

”This letter also rescinds all previous arrangements that permit KQ flights into the Republic of Tanzania,” Johari wrote.

The latest tit-for-tat is an escalation of the souring diplomatic tensions between the countries over the handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Back in April, Kenya’s Citizen TV that described Magufuli as “stubborn” for refusing to impose a total lockdown was ordered together with its sister radio to carry a live apology every hour for seven days if they did not want to have their licences revoked. 

Tanzania has severally been criticised by its neighbours for its lax approach to the coronavirus pandemic after President John Pombe Magufuli declined World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations to lockdown the country to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Although Magufuli closed airports and schools, he refused to ban public transport, places of worship, arguing that the economy didn’t need to be disrupted. In fact, he encouraged Tanzanians to throng churches and mosques to pray for coronavirus out of Tanzania. 

Later, he accused Kenya of economic sabotage after Kenya blocked Tanzanian cross-border truck drivers who tested positive for coronavirus from entering Kenya. Tanzania said the drivers had been retested in Tanzania and found to be negative. Tanzania retaliated by also blocking Kenyan trucks from entering crossing its borders.

Magufuli later urged Tanzanian farmers to sell expensively their produce to neighbouring countries that had locked up their countries due to coronavirus so as 'to teach them a lesson.' Kenya, in particular, is faced with an ongoing food crisis caused by drought and subsequent flooding. 

Last month, Tanzania reopened its airports, allowing in tourists but it accused neighbouring countries of painting a false picture to the world about the severity of the pandemic in Tanzania so as to discourage tourists. 


+3 #1 Olum S. 2020-08-01 00:46
"Back in April, Kenya’s Citizen TV that described Magufuli as “stubborn” for refusing to impose a total lockdown was ordered together with its sister radio to carry a live apology every hour for seven days if they did not want to have their licences revoked."

This is the sort of thing a dictator would do. And reacting in such a stunning manner, just because you have been labelled as 'stubborn', makes no sense at all.

President Pombe Magufuli had better start toning down, and quickly. Because at this rate, he is only making it worse for himself in the end.

If you, as an elected Head of State, cannot handle any kind of criticism, no matter how constructive, then maybe you have no business being in that hot seat, because the levels of criticism can only increase, especially after people begin to realise just how thin-skinned and highly sensitive the President is.
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+1 #2 kabayekka 2020-08-01 10:13
When one watches the BBC broadcasting the great natural wonder of the world that is happening right now of the animals migrating from Tanzania to Kenya, such commercial arguments by these artificial border countries should not be happening.

Where exactly has the African human diplomacy gone? One does not hope that the tough African military police will come out with guns blazing to kill the people, the animals and any other living thing in these two African countries.
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+1 #3 Miki 2020-08-01 10:22
Good for you Tanzania for standing up to Kenya's hypocrisy. They exempt travelers from global Covid19 epicenters like UK and US but try to shut out Tanzania?

There are problems with Tanzania's Covid19 policies or lack of them. But so is the case with especially UK and USA. Europe is still closed to American travelers, and for good reasons.

American has the highest number of infections. And in many parts of America people are non-compliant with common sense measures such as social distancing and the wearing of face masks.

This looks like Kenya is singling out Tanzania for other reasons and not really because of precautions about the epidemic. Jambo san Magufuli. Even though I think you have been a jerk as far as managing the covid19 situation in Tanzania.
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0 #4 Juwait kali 2020-08-01 12:47
Kan kenya has it both wayz???
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0 #5 Akot 2020-08-01 21:22
Olum S., well reasoned.

Covid-19 should make us understand the importance of respect of one another & accepting we are all vulnerable!

Only Boris Johonson & Donald Tramp woke up to this reality & have become so human & MUST be given second terms - replacing these 2 would be dangerous to the entire world as those who want to replace them only blame them for badly handling Covid-19, without calling for International Scientists to be in Chine to work on the spot where the virus came to life!

If Covid-19 had come to life in Africa, Europe, USA, scientists would have been flown in immediately to work on the spot of origin!

As it is, developed world are sprinting blindly to get vaccine to fight a virus non knows how it came to exist!

Superior China is holding the entire world in fear & enjoying it!
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