NAIROBI, March 4 (Xinhua) -- For the last two months, a government worker George Agutu, who works in Mombasa, Kenya's coastal city, has traveled to the capital Nairobi every weekend to be with his family.

However, before this, it would take Agutu months to make a journey due to a ban on night travel by the government in efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.

"I now conveniently take the standard gauge railway night train to Nairobi on Friday night to be with my family or back to work on Sunday," Agutu, an auditor, said recently. Kenya Railways in conjunction with Chinese firm Afristar, which runs the train, started the night service in January.

The night train service has come as a blessing to many Kenyan families that had silently suffered due to restrictions caused by the pandemic.

Philip Mainga, Kenya Railways managing director, said the night train was launched to ease travel and complement the other train services. The service was expected to boost business between the two cities, including tourism.

The night train normally departs Mombasa and Nairobi at 10 pm to arrive at either of the destinations at about 4 am. At about 8 pm, tens of passengers streamed into the station to be screened in line with COVID-19 protocols before boarding the train.

With the curfew in place, no buses ply the Mombasa-Nairobi route or any other across Kenya. Thus, the SGR train is the only mover of night travelers after the government exempted it from curfew rules. "Things are now much better, I take the train to Nairobi on Friday night and to Mombasa on Sunday night," said Agutu, noting the 950 shillings (8.66 U.S. dollars) fare is much affordable.

Businesspersons ferrying goods in between the two cities are also relishing the convenience of the train. And for Kenyans going for seminars and conferences in Mombasa or Nairobi, they no longer need to travel a day earlier to spend the night at their destinations in readiness for the meetings.

"It is now easier, you take the night train and arrive way before time to freshen up and attend the meeting that morning," said journalist Justus Maundu, who attended a meeting in Mombasa in February.

The night travel is set to boost passenger numbers for SGR in 2021, with 2020 usage having been disrupted by the pandemic.

Some 720,000 passengers used the train in 2020, down from 1.59 million in 2019, according to statistics provided by the Kenya Railways. - Xinhua

Photo Anadolu Agency

 

South Sudan's president on Wednesday suspended the operation of South Supreme Airlines, the company owning the plane that crashed in the Pieri Town on Tuesday evening, an official statement said.

“As a temporary measure to deal with these avoidable air accidents before the laws governing civil aviation are strengthened via legislative means, I am hereby directing Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation Authority to suspend South Supreme Airlines’ operations in South Sudan. This measure is necessary for these institutions to ascertain airworthiness of the remaining South Supreme planes, and restore public confidence in air travel in the country,” President Salva Kiir Mayardit said in a statement read out on the state-owned South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation.

A commercial plane crashed late Tuesday in South Sudan, killing all 10 people on board, according to the Jonglei state governor, Denay Jock Chagor.

Ten people, including eight passengers and two pilots, lost their lives after South Supreme Airlines flight HK-4274 bound for the capital Juba took off from the town of Pieri in Jonglei state and crashed, said Chagor.

“We have not yet established what the cause of the crash was, whether it was technical or human error,” Transport Minister Madut Biar Yel told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday in Juba.

“Black box of the plane will be sent to the manufacturing company in Ukraine to establish the cause of the crash,” he said.

This is the second such accident involving an aircraft operated by the regional airline. The first one occurred in 2017, when a South Supreme Airlines plane caught fire and made a crash landing, but there were no fatalities.

South Supreme Airlines could not be reached for comment on the latest incident. - Benjamin Takpiny, Anadolu Agency

File photo: Tourists have still flocked to Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Picture PA The UK's travel ban has been extended to include United Arab Emirates, Burundi and Rwanda, with British nationals returning from those countries now having to self-isolate at home. From 4am on Friday morning all arrivals who have, in the 10 days before their arrival in the UK, been in these destinations and their households will have to self-isolate immediately, and will not be eligible to use Test to Release. There will also be a flight ban on direct passenger flights from the United Arab Emirates, which includes Abu Dhabi and Dubai - popular holiday destinations for Brits. A number of influencers have visited the UAE in recent weeks despite the UK's ban on leisure travel, insisting their trips are for work purposes. Only British, Irish and third country nationals with residence rights will be able to enter the UK and will need proof of a negative test to enter the country. The Department for Transport said the move was in response to new evidence showing the likely spread of a coronavirus variant first identified in South Africa. Any exemptions usually in place will not apply, including for business travel. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps tweeted: "From tomorrow (Friday 29 Jan at 1pm), we’re extending our travel ban with the United Arab Emirates, Burundi and Rwanda all added to the UK's red list. "This means people who have been in or transited through these countries will be denied entry, except British, Irish and third country nationals with residence rights who must self-isolate for ten days at home. "Passengers must still have proof of a negative test and completed Passenger Locator Form before arrival – or could otherwise face a £500 fine for each." The news comes after the Government confirmed plans to set up quarantine hotels for Brits returning from high risk countries, including Portugal and much of South America. From tomorrow (Friday 29 Jan at 1pm), we’re extending our travel ban with the United Arab Emirates, Burundi and Rwanda all added to the UK's red list. 1/3 — Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) January 28, 2021 UK nationals and residents who cannot be refused entry when returning home "will be met at the airport and transported directly into quarantine", Mr Johnson said on Wednesday. Similar measures are expected across the UK, although Scotland and Wales have both indicated they could go further than Mr Johnson's plan for England. People wishing to travel abroad will also be required to make a declaration stating why they need to make the journey, which will be checked by carriers prior to departure. Boris Johnson told the Commons: "I want to make clear that under the stay at home regulations, it is illegal to leave home to travel abroad for leisure purposes and we will enforce this at ports and airports by asking people why they are leaving and instructing them to return home if they do not have a valid reason to travel. "We have also banned all travel from 22 countries where there is a risk of known variants including South Africa, Portugal and South American nations. "And in order to reduce the risk posed by UK nationals and residents returning home from these countries, I can announce that we will require all such arrivals who cannot be refused entry to isolate in Government provided accommodation, such as hotels, for 10 days without exception. "They will be met at the airport and transported directly into quarantine. The Department of Health and Social Care is working to establish these facilities as quickly as possible." - LBC

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