The row between Kenya and Tanzania has moved a notch higher after the government of President John Pombe Magufuli banned three more Kenyan airlines from flying into Tanzanian airspace.
According to a statement, Tanzania has now blacklisted AirKenya Express, Fly540 and Safarilink Aviation from flying to destinations in the country. The three airlines now join Kenya Airways which was banned earlier.
“The basis of the decision to nullify our approval for the three Kenyan airlines is the ongoing dispute between the two countries,” Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) director general Hamza Johari confirmed in an interview with a Business Daily correspondent in Dar es Salaam.
Tanzania took the decision after Kenya failed to list the country among those whose citizens can visit Kenya without being quarantined. Kenya has listed Tanzania as a Covid-19 hotspot and refused to include it among the 130 nations that are freely flying into Kenya since the lifting of the cessation of movement.
Tanzania does not have the exact figures of Covid-19 into the country. The government of President John Pombe Magufuli stopped releasing the Covid-19 updates as required by law in April. He also banned the media from reporting about the pandemic with those who do risking their licenses being revoked.
In June, Magufuli declared Tanzania Covid-19-free nation saying that God had healed them through prayers and that countries that were still struggling with the virus did not go down on their knees to pray. The United States started evacuating its citizens using chartered planes citing the danger of them contracting Covid-19.
At one time, when the row was starting to take shape, a plane carrying a Kenyan delegation to the funeral of The Late President Benjamin Mkapa was turned mid-air and forced back to Nairobi. Tanzania has also been frustrating Kenya’s efforts to have East African Community have trade talks with the United Kingdom forcing Kenya to go it alone.