Monday, November 13, 2006


Blow to trade as State bans Somalia flights Story by TONY KAGO Publication Date: 11/13/2006

The Government of KENYA has banned flights to and from Somalia.

Concerns about possible terrorist attacks from Somalia have been raised lately, with the United States warning last week that both Kenya and Ethiopia could be targets of suicide attacks by "extremist elements"(do u think so) from Somalia.

The British minister of State, Dr Kim Howells, who visited Kenya early this month also warned that the threat of terrorism targeting British interests in Kenya was real.

The uncertain situation in Somalia, coupled with a porous and expansive border made Kenya a soft target for terrorists, said Dr Howells, who is in charge of counter-terrorism.

Kenya's Principal immigration officer J.K. Ndathi wrote to his staff at various exit stations to inform them of the ban with effect from today until further notice.

Chartered flights will, however, not be affected by the ban but they must get clearance a week before the flight.

The clearance application, said Mr Ndathi, should be accompanied by the passenger manifest and their travel documents, and reasons for travel.

But the National Security Council's decision to ban the flights drew immediate protests from Ntonyiri MP Maoka Maore, who demanded the lifting of the embargo for cargo planes.

"Kenya-Somalia border has been wide open for the entire 15 years of the failed state of Somalia. What is the rationale this hour to suspend the flights?" he asked.

The suspension of the flights, which takes effect today is likely to affect export of miraa to the war-ravaged country.

Miraa traders stood to lose more than Sh70 million daily, said the MP as he appealed to the President to intervene and have the ban rescinded.

Kenya, he said, was likely to lose business to Ethiopia, whose aircraft were still flying to Somalia.
This is the third time in the past seven years that the Government has imposed such a ban. The first was in 1999 and another in 2001.

Besides miraa, other products airlifted to Somalia include sugar, textile, electronics, bottled water, fresh vegetables, butter and milk in about 10 flights daily.