AIR UGANDA NOW TOPS PREVIOUS TOP OFFER OF 2011 WITH ZANZIBAR PACKAGE
No sooner had Air Uganda launched their incredible package for 3 nights at the Leopard Beach Resort, Diani Beach, Mombasa, inclusive of all taxes and destination transfers, causing a mini run on the airline offices as the offer was only available till the 18th of December, did they do one better, causing even this correspondent to call the airline to ascertain the facts.
5 nights at the fancied Sandies Neptune Pwani Beach Resort in Zanzibar, inclusive a return ticket on Air Uganda from Entebbe to Zanzibar, taxes included, destination transfers, breakfast and dinner and all drinks with meals, and the only requirement is to travel in a pair, as the rate on offer, 238 US Dollars per person, covers a half twin. This package, even more incredible, is available until the 27th December, running right across the Christmas holidays, and is a sure sell out again, as the phones at Air Uganda are now ringing off the hook. Santa sure comes early this year in Kampala for those with the desire to get away for the Christmas holiday and who else to deliver Santas bag of goodies but Air Uganda. Go Travel, it is never ever going to be more affordable than this. For more information on the resort, visit http://neptunepwani.sandies-resorts.com/eng/ to fully appreciate the quality of accommodation this offer entails.
AVIATION STAKEHOLDERS WARY OF INTENDED CHANGE OF LAWS
The aviation fraternity is bracing for another fight with government, when it became known that there are plans afoot to change the laws governing the sector, including legislation governing the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority. Transport minister Amos Kimunya made the announcement yesterday when addressing a workshop on aviation law, but cleverly left out any specifics in regard of changes planned to the current legislation, which incidentally was only introduced in 2002, not even 10 years ago.
Aviators are swift to point to the current set of Air Service Regulations, imposed on the industry against agreements and assurances given by the KCAA to the industry that they would not be gazette before an exhaustive process of consultations over contentious clauses has been concluded but then nevertheless went ahead anyway in a cloak and dagger ambush, which took the aviation fraternity in shock and effectively destroyed any trust the industry had at the time in the CEO of KCAA.
We continue to fight on many areas over the applicability of certain aspects in the regulations, in particular when general aviation and leisure flying are treated like major commercial airlines. This is not right and there are many issues on requirements which if technically not available like communications from upcountry airstrips, can end a pilot in violation of regulations. We also have issues with the fees being raised dramatically, so of course, any changes to the laws governing aviation, regulating the KCAA, are of big concern to us. Our government does not understand aviation, and few of the regulatory staff are actually having experience from the private sector to fully comprehend what they are doing, how it affects safari airlines in particular. Promises of consultations are empty if our points of view go in one ear and out of the other. That process must be honest, and in the past, when we sat down and spent hundreds of hours to present our case by case issues with the regulations, it was actually dishonest, not meant to include our view point but to tick off a box the paymasters of those processes required. We have already alerted our legal brains to this development and await to get feedback from them on a range of concerns said a regular aviation source this morning, having been unable to respond overnight to emailed questions.
The air transport sector in Kenya has in recent years grown in leaps and bounds, with now over 7 million passengers and over 300.000 tons of air cargo being transacted across Kenyas airports but has suffered capacity constraints by belated efforts to expand and modernize facilities in particular at the regions primary hub, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. While Malindi and Kisumu have seen upgrades, although the runway extension in Malindi is still pending the one in Kisumu was finally concluded, Nairobi urgently requires a second runway, taxiway and aircraft parking areas, aka apron, while a new passenger terminal too is overdue. The present main terminal is during rush hour hopelessly overcrowded and handling equipment is jostling for space when attending to incoming aircraft. In fact, Kenya Airways expansion plans hinge critically on these facilities coming into place on the fast track, as The Pride of Africa seeks to expand its fleet, frequencies and destinations, across Africa and beyond, putting the Kenya Airport Authority, and the contractors, under pressure to work around the clock in three shifts to complete the new terminal and apron spaces in good time.
Watch this space for the most up to date aviation news from Eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean islands.
NAIROBI AVIATION COLLEGE STUDENTS LEFT IN LURCH
The Nairobi Aviation College, one of the privately owned institutions teaching programmes relevant to starting a career in aviation or a travel agency, found itself locked out of their premises yesterday over a long standing default with rent payments to the landlord ICDC. The school was reportedly on these premises for the past decade and industry observers consulted overnight were surprised, considering the income and cash flow for the Nairobi Aviation College with classes and courses sold out and at a pricey fee.
Hundreds of students, all reportedly paid up with school fees, were on arrival at the Uchumi House in the centre of Nairobi shocked to find office and class room equipment being moved out by auctioneers. It was impossible to establish when regular classes would resume, very likely, if at all, only next year as the equipment the institute was using is now under lock and key.
Students sitting exams too were left in panic, but it was learned that the owners of the school later on managed to get the exam venues shifted to other places, of course then being taken by very unsettled students who had prepared to sit in their own school, only to discover the eviction in process and then having to be moved. Exams under emotional stress and duress? Watch this space.
RELENTLESS PRESSURE PAYS OFF AS CHINA CUSTOMS CONSIDERS USE OF SNIFFER DOGS
The stinging global criticism against Chinas apparent hesitation to join Africa in protecting its wildlife heritage, which has grown louder and more intense month after month, is apparently showing some reaction now in the Peoples Republic. Intercepted shipments of blood ivory and rhino horn have regularly shown China as a final destination and a few seizures inside China too showed just how the demand by the nouvelle riche has driven the commercial scale poaching in Africa, decimating rhinos in particular in Southern Africa and slaughtering elephant on an unprecedented scale for their tusks.
News have now emerged that Chinese customs organization GACC has finally engaged in talks with TRAFFIC and other international experts on the use of sniffer dogs, specialized in detecting concealed ivory, rhino horn and other wildlife products, something successfully introduced by the Kenya Wildlife Service at the airport in Nairobi and the port of Mombasa, where shipments in transit hidden in the baggage of passengers but more importantly major quantities concealed in containers and declared as other cargo have been nabbed.
China has been harshly and rightly critizised for not doing enough in enforcing existing laws and regulations and been urged to make legislative changes and introduce more serious punishment for importers of blood ivory and related wildlife products, for the processing and for the possession of ivory carvings. Intricate carvings are seen as status symbol while healers peddle the value of ground rhino horn for a number of ailments, which in truth however have no greater value than chewing ones own fingernails, made of the very same natural substance.
CITES has supported the Chinese willingness to move with the times and customs agencies already using such specialized sniffer dogs have also signaled willingness to share expertise and assist the Chinese customs department with training.
Global wildlife organizations and NGOs have cautiously welcomed this apparent change in policy by China but have immediately pointed out that this can only be the first of many steps the country has to take to comply fully with global conventions and that more significant legal and regulatory changes must follow before Chinas suspected tacit and covert tolerance over the smuggling of blood ivory, rhino horn, tiger bones and other much in demand wildlife products can be revised in the court of global public opinion. Watch this space.
TANZANIA LICENSES FIRST EVER WINDPOWER PROJECT PROPOSAL
News have come in overnight from Dar es Salaam that the first major renewable energy project, a proposal to construct a 100 MW windpower farm in the Singida region of Tanzania, has been licensed to go ahead. Wind East Africa Ltd. is now in a position to secure funding for their project and go through the various final stages of regulatory approvals and environmental and social impact assessments and reports much of which has already been prepared in order to get licensed. With that document now at hand, this is considered to be just part of the due process, before construction can begin and power can flow into the national grid by around 2014, after securing project finance from development partners like the World Bank and other global financial institutions.
Only recently did a related article here refer to the glaring absence of renewable energy sources in the countrys current power generation set up, something repeatedly pointed out by global and regional energy experts, many of whom are considering Tanzania as a country with a significant renewable energy potential sourcing solar power and wind power.
Across the border in Kenya, one such windpower farm is already operating in the Ngong Hills outside Nairobi, and being expanded as it is while two new plants of 300 and 350 MW respectively have been sanctioned in Northern Kenya, one of which is now already in the procurement and pre-construction phase.
Kenya also serves as an example for the use of geothermal energy, which is equally being dramatically expanded beyond the present station near Mt. Longonot to the Menengai Crater area outside Nakuru, which has prompted Uganda too to more seriously search for suitable locations, and Tanzania is also known to have significant geothermal potential, yet like solar and windpower not exploited at this stage at all.
Green power for a green future, that is the way to go and maybe can spare the Stieglers Gorge in the Selous Game Reserve after all, when it becomes clear what true potential renewable energy sources hold for the country in the future.