(eTN) – All air operations depending on AVGAS and JetA1 aviation fuel have been halted across Uganda due to the lack of available fuel, after the reserves in Entebbe and Kajjansi have run low. Eagle Air has, at the time of writing this report, halted their flights to Arua, Gulu, Adjumani, Moyo and Kitgum including the stopovers in Murchisons Falls National Park’s Pakuba airfield and the extension to Kidepo National Park.
All types of excursions, shopping and city tours in Nairobi and Mombassa have been shelved by responsible tour and safari operators to avoid any harm coming to their clientele on visit to Kenya, a strategy which has up to now worked well as no single tourist has been reported to have come to harm during the upheavals of the past days. For this achievement, the Kenya Tourism Federation and governmental agencies and security forces are being praised for working together towards keeping visitors safe.
On the positive side, tourists have not been harmed or involved in any of the political troubles in Kenya, and the transit routes to and from the airports in Nairobi and Mombassa to the main hotels and resorts are open and closely guarded by security forces.
However, anti-travel advisories against all but essential travel to Kenya have now been issued by key Western countries and it is hoped that this will not lead to a similar collapse of Kenya’s tourism as seen in the late ‘90s, when political violence perpetrated by the then opposition had a severe impact on the sector for several years.
In fact, following these sharpened advisories British Tour Operators have reportedly already suspended departures to Kenya at least until this Saturday, which in view of the special security accorded to travelers is probably an overreaction, to put it mildly. A swift revision of this lamentable action is called for, especially as there is now indication that with the failure of the protest in Nairobi the situation in Kenya is likely to cool off over the coming days and the country may then to return to full normality.
And, while fuel deliveries are now gradually resuming from the pipeline head in Eldoret, Western Kenya, this is only possible under tight police escort up to the border for the time being, restricting the overall quantities which can be shipped.
The predicted fuel shortages have also hit Rwanda and Burundi, with rationing of fuel and escalating prices, as experienced by Uganda since New Year’s Eve. Both nations depend almost entirely at present on fuel deliveries from Kenya via Uganda and the respective governments are now said to be looking in securing alternate delivery routes from Dar es Salaam across Tanzania.
Meanwhile, in Kenya, the opposition’s so-called “million man march” was turned into a numerical mockery, when reportedly only a few hundred of their supporters tried to make it to the venue in the heart of Nairobi, only to be disbursed by security forces. Seeing the humiliating failure to have the unauthorized meeting take place, Raila Odinga then faced up to the inevitable and postponed for a second time the Uhuru Park meeting, which was in no shape or form taking place anyway.
The main opposition has now also started to change their tune and offered to accept an “interim government” for a few months in the face of international pressure, but the Kenyan government has so far rejected the offer and given indication they would soon announce a new cabinet line up. This new cabinet should apparently also include some members of the moderate opposition, which have not resorted to violence and threats to overturn the announced results.
Information has also been received from sources close to the Odinga group that there are internal differences emerging over taking their complaints to court. Hardliners like Odinga himself still seem to believe that a violent reaction on the streets will serve their purpose best, while the more intelligent members of the group now apparently are considering filing a formal complaint to the competent courts, to have the results scrutinized. While this would inevitably take some time to determine, it would nevertheless be the best way out of the present chaos and not just be a face saving exercise but likely form the foundation of a future coexistence of the two main political camps.
Further, Kenya police has urged the public to stay away from meeting venue and has banned opposition meetings. Security forces in substantial numbers were deployed already on Wednesday in Nairobi and across the country, supported by army units, to prevent unauthorized opposition meetings in Nairobi’s Central Park, which were expected to generate more violence upon the suffering country. President Mwai Kibaki laid the blame squarely on the opposition and its leader Raila Odinga, who now stands accused of having promoted and fostered ethnic violence and cleansing in areas where he enjoyed political support. Subsequently, Nairobi and other urban centres are once again expected to resemble ghost towns as business owners are unlikely to open their shops, while the opposition is spoiling for another fight.
In another effort, however, to bring the opposing sides together President Kibaki also met with a number of the newly elected members of parliament at State House Nairobi. But, details are still scarce of what has been discussed and was agreed in the meeting to end the cycles of violence since elections results were declared a few days ago and the president sworn in for a second term of office. Belated calls by the opposition party ODM to their supporters to halt violence also sounded hollow after first loosening their goon squads on unsuspecting fellow Kenyans with the aim to maim and kill.