Nairobi and Dar must end this needless tiff
Kenya and Tanzania must call to order the silent and dangerous diplomatic tiff threatening to scuttle years of hard-earned economic partnership among the two East African Community member states.
While the two countries have moved to calm mounting anxiety over a standoff on each other’s airspace, on ideologies, differences and management of the coronavirus pandemic, this tit-for-tat game is bad for business and the region’s socio-political and economic well being.
In one fell swoop last week, the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority pulled a quick one on Kenya, cancelling licences for Kenya Airways flights to Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar in retaliation to an earlier move by Nairobi to leave Tanzania out of a list of countries allowed to fly into its territory.
This was uncalled for, and has heightened fears that the latest tiff may lead to cracks in the fragile East African union, and those sectors leveraging the aviation sector for business must be experiencing a moment of trepidation.
This move means even flights by Precision Air – the Tanzanian airline in which KQ has shares – will not resume flights to any destination in Kenya.
For now, reason must prevail for the sake of travellers and the economy of the region which is projected to lose upwards of $5.4 billion (Sh580 billion) worth of tourist spending this year due to Covid-19.
It is unfortunate that, despite sharing a lot, the frequency of diplomatic tiffs between Kenya and Tanzania has become a rather common feature. Indeed, the two governments seem to lower the bar, every time they go at each other.
Citizens of the two brother nations must wonder what their leaders are up to each time there’s a misunderstanding because they have a lot in common, especially the thriving trade between them.
Therefore, as Kenya’s Transport minister James Macharia tries to iron out the airspace “misunderstanding” with his Tanzanian counterpart Isack Kamwelwe, it’s our hope that the two governments will stop the needless grand standing and harness the shared opportunities for the good of their people.
They must always remember that what binds us as people is way too strong than what seeks to divides us.
Lets put politics aside and allow Kenyans and Tanzanians to breathe again.