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LIVES CUT SHORT: The accident scene. Photo The Star

 

A new campaign backed by the United Nations seeks to reduce the official speed limit in urban areas to 30 kilometres per hour.

In Kenya and most countries, the speed limit in urban places is 50km/h, but only reduces to 30km/h near schools.

The campaign comes at the start of the sixth UN Global Road Safety Week, which commences Tuesday and ends on May 23.

At least 3,000 Kenyans are killed in road crashes every year, according to the National Transport and Safety Authority.

The majority of the victims are pedestrians, motorcyclists, and cyclists mostly in urban areas, NTSA says.

The World Health Organization, which supports the new global campaign, says deaths did not reduce during the lockdown due to speeding.

Google mobility reports show movement decreased overall due to Covid-19 lockdowns last year and people working from home.

“Fatality numbers have not decreased in the same proportion because people drive at higher speeds,” WHO said in a statement.

In December last year, NTSA said fatalities in Kenya increased to 3,663 in 2020, compared to 3,508 in 2019. 

“We need a new vision for creating safe, healthy, green and liveable cities,” WHO boss Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.

“Low-speed streets are an important part of that vision. As we recover and rebuild from Covid-19, let’s make safer roads for a safer world.”

The global drive, called Streets for Life Campaign, is led by Zoleka Mandela, a granddaughter of Nelson Mandela, who lost her daughter in a road traffic crash in South Africa in 2010.  

Safe Drive Africa, a Kenyan road traffic lobby, supports the initiative.

“We are losing more people to road accidents than to Covid-19, and we are not putting in similar efforts to stop accidents,” Safe Drive Africa executive director Isaac Mutashi said.

Several heads of UN and international agencies, NGOs and private companies have signed an open letter calling for 30km/h speed limits in cities worldwide.

The letter highlights the need to lower speed to achieve the target of the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021-2030 and the sustainable development goals.    

Evidence shows that 30km/h speed where people mix with traffic not only saves lives, but also promotes walking, cycling and a move towards zero-carbon mobility.

Last year's Stockholm Declaration on Road Safety urged member states to address speed management as a key road safety intervention.

In particular, it urged countries to “strengthen law enforcement to prevent speeding and mandate a maximum road travel speed of 30km/h as appropriate in areas where vulnerable road users and vehicles mix in a frequent and planned manner…”

The Stockholm Declaration based its call for low-speed streets on studies in cities such as Graz, Austria; London, UK; New York, USA; and Toronto, Canada, which indicated that 30km/h speed limits and zones yielded reductions – often significant – in road traffic crashes, injuries and deaths. - John Muchangi, The Star

Kenya suspends flights from Somalia for three months effective on May 11, 2021. Photo Nation Media Group

 

Kenya on Monday suspended flights from Somalia in the latest show that relations between the two sides have not thawed as announced last week.

A Notice to Airmen (Notam) on Monday indicated that flights departing for or arriving from Somalia will not be allowed for three months from May 11 to August 9 this year. Only humanitarian deliveries and medical evacuation flights will be allowed into the country, according to a notice by the aviation regulator, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA).

The Authority did not elaborate on reasons but suggested there had been a security directive from the government to restrict air traffic between the two countries. The decision means all chartered and scheduled flights to Somalia will not be allowed.

However, flights from Somalia passing through the Kenyan airspace to another destination will be exempted. The announcement was made just as Somalia’s President Mohamed Farmaajo was flying over Kenya to Uganda for the inauguration of President Yoweri Museveni for the fifth term.

Also exempted are military flights which are not within the jurisdiction of the KCAA.

The move, however, dents any latest efforts to revive relations between the two countries.

Last week, Qatari special envoy Mutlaq bin Majed al-Qahtani helped broker resumption of relations and Mogadishu announced it was reopening its diplomatic channels with Nairobi that it had shut down in December 2020, protesting against Kenya’s alleged interference in Somalia’s internal matters.

But Somali officials clarified that the resumed relations will not involve lifting the ban on miraa trade or discussions about the maritime boundary dispute that is awaiting a verdict at the International Court of Justice.

Somalia, however, has not indicated when its ambassador will resume his post in Kenya. Mr Mohamud Nur Tarsan was recalled to Mogadishu and Kenya’s Lucas Tumbo asked to return to Nairobi after Mogadishu cut ties in December last year. Nairobi, however, did not sever the ties.

This isn’t the first time either Nairobi or Mogadishu is banning flights.

Right after the fall of Siad Barre’s regime, Kenya’s then President Daniel Moi suspended flights and closed its borders with Somalia. A petition from humanitarian agencies, however, allowed a special corridor for aid deliveries.

In later years, Kenya had restricted flight arrivals from Somalia, asking them to first land in Wajir for security checks before proceeding to any other port of call. A discussion between the two sides saw the move lifted in 2019, after Mogadishu agreed to intensify security checks for its departing passengers.

A few months later, Somalia banned flights from Kenya carrying miraa into Somalia, and restricted all other flights to land in Mogadishu before going to any other port of call. This directive was, however, ignored by rebellious federal states in Somalia. - Aggrey Mutambo, The EastAfrican

Photo AirInsight Group

 

Kenya Airways PLC and Airlink (PTY) Ltd. signed an interline agreement that extends Kenya Airways’ reach in the Southern Africa region. The new agreement offers customers seamless travel to over 40 cities across Africa.

Kenya Airways continues to diversify its services and operations in response to customers’ needs. Under this latest agreement, Kenya Airways customers flying to South Africa can connect with Airlink-operated flights to Windhoek, Durban, Gaborone, Maseru, Pemba, Maputo, Port Elizabeth, among others. It also enables Airlink passengers to book a through ticket to Nairobi and enjoy connections to  Kenya Airways destinations within Africa, including Entebbe, Kigali, Dar es Salaam, Bujumbura, Kinshasa, and more.

The agreement presents new growth opportunities for both airlines. It also strengthens aviation ties between Kenya and South Africa. This partnership plays a significant economic role, improving trade exchange and spurring tourism across the continent. “As global economies continue to reel from the effects of the pandemic, such strategic partnerships are critical. These new routes will positively impact the flow of trade and tourism across the region by offering our customers convenient travel around the continent,” said Julius Thairu, Kenya Airways Acting Chief Commercial Officer.

In 2020 Kenya Airways was named Africa’s Leading Airline by the World Travel Awards. It continues to modernize its fleet with its 32 aircraft being some of the youngest in Africa. This includes its flagship 787 Dreamliner aircraft. Kenya Airways offers cargo services to key locations including London, Amsterdam, Guangzhou, Sharjah, Mumbai, and over 25 intra-Africa routes in addition to its passenger network. Kenya Airways takes pride in being at the forefront of connecting Africa to the World and the World to Africa through its hub at the new ultra-modern Terminal 1A at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi.

Airlink was established in 1992 and is an independent, privately-owned, and BBBEE airline. It offers travelers a wide choice of flights across its comprehensive network of Southern African destinations, which it serves with a fleet of more than 50 modern jetliners. In 2019 Airlink carried more than two million customers on more than 63,000 flights and its network includes more than 30 destinations in 10 African countries and St. Helena. Airlink was South Africa’s most punctual airline in 2020. In February 2021 97.87% of Airlink flights departed on time. - AirInsight Group

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