UWA ENQUIRY ‘STUCK OVER FUNDS’
The anticipated start of the commission of enquiry, instituted by the minister of tourism and chaired by eminent former Supreme Court Justice Kanyeihamba, has delayed according to sources in the ministry. It appears that queries have arisen over the absence of experts in certain fields, but mostly over the lack of allocated fund to carry out the work. This appears to include funding for administrative expenditure but also for sitting allowances and related logistics.
The commission is tasked to investigate the use of funds given to UWA by bi- and multilateral organizations to carry out specific functions, after it has been alleged that such funds have been misused or misdirected, and that laid down procedures and rules have not been observed.
A source from within the tourism ministry on strictest condition of anonymity said: ‘our ministry is struggling as it is. We do not have enough budget allocation left until the new financial year. Funds promised by Finance were eventually not released and used for other aspects of government programmes judged more important. So it is anybody’s guess when the commission will be funded, but they have made this anomaly known and be told to be patient while it is sorted out’.
Not a good start, concludes this correspondent!
FLY DUBAI NOW SET FOR ADDIS FLIGHTS
Dubai’s own low cost airline, Fly Dubai, has just announced the launch of a new destination, Addis Ababa, as it eyes further expansion into Africa.
The airline, already flying to Egypt, Sudan and Djibouti, seems to gradually move further South on the continent, and the introduction of three times a week flights to Addis may be the harbinger of things yet to come.
Using a fleet of exclusively NG Boeing 737-800’s the airline will as of 22nd April fly every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday between Dubai and Addis, joining giant ‘cousin’ Emirates – they fly daily to Addis and then on to Entebbe – and Ethiopian Airlines on the route. Pricing will undoubtedly become a factor for the market entry of this low cost airline, but as is the case with Air Arabia, which flies from Sharjah to Nairobi and competes there with Emirates and Kenya Airways, a success can be made out of no frills services. Notably, Air Arabia is going daily on that route now and Fly Dubai is also expected, once the new Addis service has taken hold in the market, to soon consider adding more flights as loadfactors reach the planned and forecast levels.
A sizeable contingent of Ethiopian ‘expatriate’ workers are currently living and working in the UAE and they in particular, as will their families when coming for visits, will be keenly watching the launch fares and are expected to make up a major share of the projected traffic Fly Dubai intends to capture. The same of course also applies to expats living in the Gulf and wanting to explore Ethiopia’s rich heritage and see some of the national parks, or explore the source of the ‘Blue Nile’, spending money on the ground and not too much in getting there.
Well done FlyDubai, happy landings to your crews and passengers.
RWANDA FREEZES LIBYAN HOTEL ASSET IN KIGALI
Following in the footsteps of Uganda’s decision last week to also freeze, amongst other businesses, the Laico Lake Victoria Hotel asset of the Libyan regime, Rwanda followed suit yesterday by doing the same to the Umubano Hotel in Kigali.
Previously managed by such illustrious companies like Accor, the hotel was bought by Gadaffi’s regime – and publicly floated as ‘his property’ – a few years ago. It was learned that the name ‘Laico’ was also being removed from the hotel’s name, making it clear to all that Rwanda is in full compliance with the UN Security Council resolution to freeze Gadaffi’s and his cronies’ assets and impose travel bans.
While it could not be ascertained if board seats held by Libyans and managers installed by Laico were to go too, as was the case in Kenya, this latest action by an African government will deal a further blow to Gadaffi’s waning regime.
Only yesterday did news also break that the Libyan majority owned RwandaTel had their mobile license withdrawn, effectively grounding the company now only left with a reportedly loss making fixed network inherited from the days when RwandaTel was the only telecoms company in the country.
It was stated overnight in a related development that the regulatory oversight body would NOT restore the RwandaTel license under any circumstances, having given them due warning since early January over failures to comply with license conditions, infringed terms of the license and had the worst record with consumers over dropped calls. It was made clear by a source that the regime of Gadaffi was unable to inject the required capital needed to put things right and the latest developments in Libya also suggest the man has other concerns right now than the fortunes of some of the companies he acquired with funds belonging to the people of Libya but nevertheless for long treated as his own.
Kenya in contrast has remained shtumm over the fate of Libyan investments, with the deadline of sanctions and asset freezes to be imposed by UN member countries now passed, but sources close to the Laico / Grand Regency Hotel in Nairobi speak of growing uncertainty, suppliers demanding early or cash payments in anticipation that this hotel too will sooner rather than later be ‘frozen’.
Watch this space.
MARA POACHING ATTRIBUTED TO CROSS BORDER RAIDS
Overnight reports were confirmed that two more elephant had been poached near the common border with Tanzania, although the swift arrival of anti poaching rangers with tracker dogs forced the poachers to retreat towards, and more than likely across the border into the Serengeti, leaving the tusks behind. KWS rangers then removed the tusks and returned them to their park head quarters from where a coordinated search with their SENAPA (Serengeti National Park) counterparts was organized.
The Serengeti has been suffering of increased poaching in recent months and added patrols by air and on the ground there have likely driven some of the poachers across the border to try their luck there, as hot pursuit across the border is not permitted for KWS staff and vice versa for SENAPA staff, then depending on their colleagues to do the job for them.
Cooperation between the two ranger forces on the ground has been described as good, especially important to curtail poaching through the exchange of information and intelligence gathered from sources in neighbouring villages and settlements outside the parks.
Meanwhile has another seminar taken place in Kilgoris / Kenya, to educate the population on the migration patterns of elephant and other game, all of which are suffering of a shrinking habitat with farms coming up right to park boundaries at times. There have been growing demands from such villages to more swiftly compensate them for loss of crops due to animal raids, an issue high on the agenda if the human / wildlife conflict is to take a turn for the better.