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Kenya flies high in air safety but stumbles at crash investigation




About a third of the aircraft crashes occur on the runway during landings and take-offs

Air travel in Kenya has seen improvements in the past few years but the country’s ability to properly investigate air crashes lags, a Nation Newsplex review of air safety data reveals.

Kenya’s air safety score was 78 percent in 2017, a 16 percent improvement from 2008, according to data from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The score places it seventh in Africa and at position 67 out of 185 states in the world.

ICAO’s Universal State Oversight Audit Programme measures a nation’s air safety based on eight factors: air crash investigations, civil aviation organisation, airfields and ground aids, aviation legislation, aircraft operations, air navigation services, personnel licensing and training, and airworthiness of civil aircrafts.

Kenya’s best mark was in aircraft airworthiness, in which it scored 95 percent. Airfields and ground aids came in second with 87 percent whereas personal licensing and training had 83 percent.

Despite Kenya’s impressive show overall, it scored a paltry 40 percent in air crash investigations, the lowest score of the eight factors assessed. Without any reports on major improvements in this area in the two years after the audit was completed, this implies that the country is yet to provide effective processes to ensure proper investigations of air crash incidents.

Insufficient training on air crash investigation contributes to flaws such as lack of timely launching of investigations, failure to preserve essential volatile evidence and poor management of investigations, as well as weak investigation results and safety recommendations.

According to the audit report released in 2018, about two-thirds of ICAO member states were yet to establish standard investigation procedures, with a similar proportion lacking adequate training programmes for their aircraft accident investigators.

“A significant safety concern does not necessarily indicate a particular safety deficiency in the air navigation service providers, but rather points to the State not providing sufficient safety oversight to ensure the effective implementation of applicable ICAO standards,” states the report.
More fatalities
A Newsplex examination of data on aircraft crashes from the Transport ministry indicates that an estimated 111 crashes occurred in Kenya since 2010. The crashes range from minor to serious incidents, and from training flights, to private, cargo and commercial flights. A total of 14 of the crashes were fatal resulting in 38 deaths.
During the period under review, the year 2016 had the highest number of aircraft crashes at 26, followed by 2014 with 18. However, even though the year is not yet over, 2018 leads in deaths, at 10, followed by 2017 with five.

The 2018 tragedy involved a Fly-SAX plane with the 10 people on board crashing into Elephant Hill in the Aberdare Ranges. Preliminary investigations pointed to a combination of the crew’s unfamiliarity with the route and poor visibility due to foggy weather as the causes of the crash. All passengers and crew on board died.

In October last year, a helicopter with five occupants crashed into Lake Nakuru, killing everyone on board.

The aviation safety ranking also shows Kenya topping in Eastern Africa. Rwanda comes second, with 74 percent followed by Ethiopia (69 percent), Tanzania (64 percent), Uganda (61 percent) and Burundi (26 percent). There is yet to be an audit result for South Sudan.

Globally, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) leads with 99 percent, followed closely by South Korea (98.5 percent), Singapore (98 percent), France (96 percent) and Canada (95 percent).


The best-ranked African country is South Africa with 87 percent followed by Mauritania (86 percent) and Togo (85 percent).

Djibouti lags behind the rest of the world at four percent, followed by the Cook Islands (5.6 percent), Haiti (six percent), the Central African Republic (seven percent) and Guinea-Bissau (11 percent).

Kenya is also among 48 percent of the 185 ICAO member states whose air safety score is above the global average of 65 percent.

The number of airfields increased by nine percent from 450 in 2013 to 491 in 2017, according to the Economic Survey 2018. This is linked to the government’s initiative of equipping every county with a functional airstrip. On the other hand, aviation personnel licences increased by six percent from 9,059 in 2016 to 9,577 in the same period.

Kenya’s other strengths were air navigation services (83 percent) and legislation and civil aviation regulations (76 percent).

This progress is vital, coming at a time when the country is increasing its competitiveness at providing superior customer experiences through its flights and services.

In 2016, the US Federal Aviation Administration blacklisted Kenya’s airspace as a conflict zone in what it termed as the “possibility of extremist or militant activity.”

However, the US Government reviewed this classification in 2017 and declared that the country met all ICAO standards of aviation safety.

This new status rewarded Kenya Airways the rights to operate direct flights to the United States, with the maiden trip expected in October this year.
Runway incidents
Globally, more than half (55 percent) of the crashes in 2017 were incidents on the runway and they claimed six percent of the deaths. A fifth of the incidents involved pilots losing control of aircraft in the air, which led to 12 percent of the deaths.

Despite having the least share of occurrences (one percent), cases of aircraft being flown into terrain, water or obstacles accounted for three in four of deaths in air crashes globally in 2017.

In Kenya, about a third of the aircraft crashes occur on the runway, during landings and take-offs, as a result of landing gear faults, overshooting the runway, or intrusions on the runway.

Engine failures account for a fifth of these accidents, followed by loss of control and ground incidents, at eight percent each. Crashes into obstacles accounted for seven percent of the incidents and over half of the fatalities (53 percent).

Insufficient training on air crash investigation contributes to flaws such as lack of timely launching of investigations, failure to preserve essential volatile evidence and poor management of investigations, as well as weak investigation results and safety recommendations.

Investigations are crucial in identifying grey areas which can be addressed and help in preventing more accidents.

Probes were concluded in two of the five crashes reported, and recommendations made by the Air Accident Investigation Department.

The global air accident rate increased by 14 percent from 2.1 accidents per million take-offs in 2016 to 2.4 accidents per a million departures in 2017, according to the ICAO Aviation Safety Report 2018.
Globally, the year 2014 had the highest number of deaths from commercial plane crashes in the past five years, at 911. This dropped by 95 percent to 50 in 2017, making it the safest year for air travel.



Sordid tale of the bank ‘that would bribe God’




Bank of Credit and Commerce International. August 1991. [File, Standard]

“This bank would bribe God.” These words of a former employee of the disgraced Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) sum up one of the most rotten global financial institutions.
BCCI pitched itself as a top bank for the Third World, but its spectacular collapse would reveal a web of transnational corruption and a playground for dictators, drug lords and terrorists.
It was one of the largest banks cutting across 69 countries and its aftermath would cause despair to innocent depositors, including Kenyans.
BCCI, which had $20 billion (Sh2.1 trillion in today’s exchange rate) assets globally, was revealed to have lost more than its entire capital.
The bank was founded in 1972 by the crafty Pakistani banker Agha Hasan Abedi.
He was loved in his homeland for his charitable acts but would go on to break every rule known to God and man.
In 1991, the Bank of England (BoE) froze its assets, citing large-scale fraud running for several years. This would see the bank cease operations in multiple countries. The Luxembourg-based BCCI was 77 per cent owned by the Gulf Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  
BoE investigations had unearthed laundering of drugs money, terrorism financing and the bank boasted of having high-profile customers such as Panama’s former strongman Manual Noriega as customers.
The Standard, quoting “highly placed” sources reported that Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Zayed Sultan would act as guarantor to protect the savings of Kenyan depositors.
The bank had five branches countrywide and panic had gripped depositors on the state of their money.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would then move to appoint a manager to oversee the operations of the BCCI operations in Kenya.
It sent statements assuring depositors that their money was safe.
The Standard reported that the Sheikh would be approaching the Kenyan and other regional subsidiaries of the bank to urge them to maintain operations and assure them of his personal support.
It was said that contact between CBK and Abu Dhabi was “likely.”
This came as the British Ambassador to the UAE Graham Burton implored the gulf state to help compensate Britons, and the Indian government also took similar steps.
The collapse of BCCI was, however, not expect to badly hit the Kenyan banking system. This was during the sleazy 1990s when Kenya’s banking system was badly tested. It was the era of high graft and “political banks,” where the institutions fraudulently lent to firms belonging or connected to politicians, who were sometimes also shareholders.
And even though the impact was expected to be minimal, it was projected that a significant number of depositors would transfer funds from Asian and Arab banks to other local institutions.
“Confidence in Arab banking has taken a serious knock,” the “highly placed” source told The Standard.
BCCI didn’t go down without a fight. It accused the British government of a conspiracy to bring down the Pakistani-run bank.  The Sheikh was said to be furious and would later engage in a protracted legal battle with the British.
“It looks to us like a Western plot to eliminate a successful Muslim-run Third World Bank. We know that it often acted unethically. But that is no excuse for putting it out of business, especially as the Sultan of Abu Dhabi had agreed to a restructuring plan,” said a spokesperson for British Asians.
A CBK statement signed by then-Deputy Governor Wanjohi Murithi said it was keenly monitoring affairs of the mother bank and would go to lengths to protect Kenyan depositors.
“In this respect, the CBK has sought and obtained the assurance of the branch’s management that the interests of depositors are not put at risk by the difficulties facing the parent company and that the bank will meet any withdrawal instructions by depositors in the normal course of business,” said Mr Murithi.
CBK added that it had maintained surveillance of the local branch and was satisfied with its solvency and liquidity.
This was meant to stop Kenyans from making panic withdrawals.
For instance, armed policemen would be deployed at the bank’s Nairobi branch on Koinange Street after the bank had announced it would shut its Kenyan operations.
In Britain, thousands of businesses owned by British Asians were on the verge of financial ruin following the closure of BCCI.
Their firms held almost half of the 120,000 bank accounts registered with BCCI in Britain. 
The African Development Bank was also not spared from this mess, with the bulk of its funds deposited and BCCI and stood to lose every coin.
Criminal culture
In Britain, local authorities from Scotland to the Channel Islands are said to have lost over £100 million (Sh15.2 billion in today’s exchange rate).
The biggest puzzle remained how BCCI was allowed by BoE and other monetary regulation authorities globally to reach such levels of fraudulence.
This was despite the bank being under tight watch owing to the conviction of some of its executives on narcotics laundering charges in the US.
Coast politician, the late Shariff Nassir, would claim that five primary schools in Mombasa lost nearly Sh1 million and appealed to then Education Minister George Saitoti to help recover the savings. Then BoE Governor Robin Leigh-Pemberton condemned it as so deeply immersed in fraud that rescue or recovery – at least in Britain – was out of the question.
“The culture of the bank is criminal,” he said. The bank was revealed to have targeted the Third World and had created several “institutional devices” to promote its operations in developing countries.
These included the Third World Foundation for Social and Economic Studies, a British-registered charity.
“It allowed it to cultivate high-level contacts among international statesmen,” reported The Observer, a British newspaper.
BCCI also arranged an annual Third World lecture and a Third World prize endowment fund of about $10 million (Sh1 billion in today’s exchange rate).
Winners of the annual prize had included Nelson Mandela (1985), sir Bob Geldof (1986) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1989).
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Agricultural Development Corporation Chief Accountant Gerald Karuga on the Spot Over Fraud –




Gerald Karuga, the acting chief accountant at the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC), is on the spot over fraud in land dealings.

ADC was established in 1965 through an Act of Parliament Cap 346 to facilitate the land transfer programme from European settlers to locals after Kenya gained independence.

Karuga is under fire for allegedly aiding a former powerful permanent secretary in the KANU era Benjamin Kipkulei to deprive ADC beneficiaries of their land in Naivasha.

Kahawa Tungu understands that the aggrieved parties continue to protest the injustice and are now asking the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe Karuga.

A source who spoke to Weekly Citizen publication revealed that Managing Director Mohammed Dulle is also involved in the mess at ADC.

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Dulle is accused of sidelining a section of staffers in the parastatal.

The sources at ADC intimated that Karuga has been placed strategically at ADC to safeguard interests of many people who acquired the corporations’ land as “donations” from former President Daniel Arap Moi.

Despite working at ADC for many years Karuga has never been transferred, a trend that has raised eyebrows.

“Karuga has worked here for more than 30 years and unlike other senior officers in other parastatals who are transferred after promotion or moved to different ministries, for him, he has stuck here for all these years and we highly suspect that he is aiding people who were dished out with big chunks of land belonging to the corporation in different parts of the country,” said the source.

In the case of Karuga safeguarding Kipkulei’s interests, workers at the parastatals and the victims who claim to have lost their land in Naivasha revealed that during the Moi regime some senior officials used dubious means to register people as beneficiaries of land without their knowledge and later on colluded with rogue land officials at the Ministry of Lands to acquire title deeds in their names instead of those of the benefactors.

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“We have information that Karuga has benefitted much from Kipkulei through helping him and this can be proved by the fact that since the matter of the Naivasha land began, he has been seen changing and buying high-end vehicles that many people of his rank in government can’t afford to buy or maintain,” the source added.

“He is even building a big apartment for rent in Ruiru town.”

The wealthy officer is valued at over Sh1.5 billion in prime properties and real estate.

Last month, more than 100 squatters caused scenes in Naivasha after raiding a private firm owned by Kipkulei.

The squatters, who claimed to have lived on the land for more than 40 years, were protesting take over of the land by a private developer who had allegedly bought the land from the former PS.

They pulled down a three-kilometre fence that the private developed had erected.

The squatters claimed that the former PS had not informed them that he had sold the land and that the developer was spraying harmful chemicals on the grass affecting their livestock and homes built on a section of the land.

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Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner Kisilu Mutua later issued a statement warning the squatters against encroaching on Kipkuleir’s land.

“They are illegally invading private land. We shall not allow the rule of the jungle to take root,” warned Mutua.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee recently demanded to know identities of 10 faceless people who grabbed 30,350 acres of land belonging to the parastatal, exposing the rot at the corporation.

ADC Chairman Nick Salat, who doubles up as the KANU party Secretary-General, denied knowledge of the individuals and has asked DCI to probe the matter.

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