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Kenya flies high in air safety but stumbles at crash investigation

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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).

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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.



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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard

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Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.

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However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health

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Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.

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Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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