Let reason prevail in Nairobi-Dar tiff
Relations between Kenya and Tanzania took a dip again last week after Dar es Salaam banned three more Kenyan airlines from its airspace.
The three join national career Kenya Airways, which was barred earlier.
The latest move followed a decision by Kenya to retain Tanzanian nationals on a list of travellers required to go on mandatory quarantine on entry to the country.
Nairobi has placed Tanzania on the red list of nations with high risk in coronavirus.
Dar responded by blocking Air Kenya Express, Fly540 and Safarilink Aviation from flying into its territory.
Tanzania President John Magufuli has taken a rather odd approach to the fight against coronavirus, which has claimed thousands of lives globally, endangering the health of citizens of its neighbours, including Kenyans.
This forced Kenya to temporarily close its borders with Tanzania and impose tough health protocols for travellers from Dar.
When Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni called for cooperation among East African leaders in the fight against the pandemic, Magufuli retorted that “we co-operate in bringing development. However, in resolving a problem, everyone has their own means.”
Like many countries worldwide, Magufuli did not impose a lockdown to curb the virus spread, saying he feared it would cause poverty.
For some reason, Tanzanians have been going about their businesses unperturbed.
While Kenya has insisted on health protocols such as wearing of face masks and social distancing, Tanzanians have been holding huge gatherings, including religious and sporting events.
As this is a serious health issue, Nairobi is justified to make decisions geared to protect its citizens.
What were are concerned about, however, is the acrimonious tone relations between the two countries is taking.
Apart from being neighbours, the two countries are big business partners. The tiff has already had far-reaching implications on trade.
Tanzania has retained 25 per cent import duty on Kenyan-made confectioneries such as chocolate, ice cream, biscuits and sweets.
It also continues to levy 25 per cent duty on some of Kenya’s edible oils.
While Nairobi has insisted it will not compromise the health of its people for trade, the two countries must explore an amicable solution to the disagreement. As we have stated before, this standoff has no winner, let reason prevail.