Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Is Al-shabaab planning to determine who wins in Kenya 2017?


 There is a surge in the frequency and intensity of terror attacks on Kenyan Soil. In an- 8 – week period  up to Mid-July, there were 15 terror incidents in Northern Kenya towns and Lamu county at the coast,  a majority of which involved blasts caused by IEDs. 

The Mangled wreckage of an APC hit by Al-shabaab AIED
This is in sharp contrast to the situation between January and April this year, when only one or two incidents were reported per month in Wajir County, says Kenya’s stability and Risk Report for July this year.
The 15 incidents cost 55 lives a majority of them Security agents. Forty security agents including Policemen and Soldiers. The rest were civilians including four school children, nine adults beheaded and a relative of a Permanent Secretary who was killed as the terrorists abducted the PS. She was later rescued by the security forces.

Out of the 15 incidents, thirteen involved IED blasts targeting the security agents. The death toll from the incidents is also a sharp 690 percent rise from the situation in January to April when one death or none at all were recorded per incident. The current spate of attack averages 7 deaths per week.
All security officers were killed by IEDs. This is a worrying trend for targeting security agents destroys their vehicles thus slowing down police response time. It also instills fear on the officers, again slowing down their response time.

Aftermath of Mpeketoni attack in 2016

The 1500 Percent surge in terror activity coincided with the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadhan during which terror activity increases. However, MEARisk warns that this could this be a precursor to bigger attacks.  The slaughter of nine villagers on July 8th, the first of its kind on Kenyan soil, but a common occurrence in Somalia, marked the acceleration of militant cruelty to a new high.

The report says that in April, the Kenya Defense Forces operating under AMISOM in Somalia killed 76 Al-shabaab operatives in Gedo region of Somalia. Before then, in March KDF had killed another 57 militants. Other attacks have also been reported in the Somali media where KDF has killed tens of militants.
So the killing of the 40 officers could easily be dismissed as revenge for Kenyan killings of Al- shabaab militants.
However, there is more to it than just revenge. It will be recalled than in 2013, Al- shabaab militants struck at Nairobi’s Westgate Mall killing 62 people. In 2015, Al-shabaab struck again, killing 148 students of the Garissa university college.
 In June 2014, Al- shabaab struck in Mpeketoni in Lamu County, killing 100 people.  In between 28 bus passengers, most of them teachers and nurses were killed in al-Shabaab attacks in Wajir. Quarry workers were also targeted.
 In February 2016, Al- shabaab attacked a Kenyan military base in El- Adde Somalia, killing an estimated 180 soldiers.
These events may appear unrelated, except that they had one common thread, they were designed to disillusion Kenyans at home to force them to demand the withdrawal of Kenyan forces from Somalia.  The government, for its part, has been firm that they will not be withdrawn.
If the earlier attacks had a political agenda, then they failed because Kenyan troops are still in Somalia thumping Al-shabaab at will.
The surge in terror activity so close to the elections in August 2017 could be a pointer to a political agenda. It could signal Al- shabaab’s desire to influence the forth coming elections in Kenya slated for August 8th, 2017. It could determine the winner!
 In 2014, Al-shabaab hit Mpeketoni just a day before the launch of the” Infamous US$2 billion” sovereign bond. Analysts then saw the attack as an attempt to sabotage the bond. That attempt failed as the bond was oversubscribed by 400 per cent.
 Can similar attacks be shrugged off this time around? This is an election year and Al-shabaab could be working to demoralize voters or to incite them to change the regime. Terrorists are known to influence an election through a surge in terror activities, says the MEARisk report.
Unlike 2013 and 2014, the security forces in Kenya have gained a lot of knowledge about the terror group. They have learnt to work jointly- sharing information and experiences.  This is one of the reasons Nairobi has become safe from Al- shabaab threat. However, this being an election year, Al- shabaab could try to be more cruel and daring.
 Perhaps attacking a crowded campaign rally in Kenya. Terror groups always do that. For instance, early in this decade, the Spanish rebel group, ETA, bombed a Railway station just a day before an election. The incumbent Prime Minister lost the election.

 If a crowded political rally is hit so close to the election, Voters would blame the government for failure to protect them, warns the report, and vote it out.

Monday, 10 July 2017

The Nairobi-Mombasa highway to be a toll road

Snarl-up at Kibarani Mombasa: 
Traffic jams begin at the Island.
The expanded Nairobi- Mombasa Highway will be a toll road, we can report. The highway will cost a whopping US$2.2 billion (Kshs230 billion at current exchange rates) which, according to the feasibility study, will be recouped in 25 years.

This is one of the five major highways slated for tolling. Others are: the Nairobi- Nakuru- Mau summit road; the second Nyali Bridge; the Thika- Nairobi road and the Southern By-pass also in Nairobi.

The implementation of the projects under PPP model means the projects will be undertaken by the private sector who will recover their investment in the course of the life of the projects.

Currently, transport cost accounts for around 30% of the cost of goods and services across the region due to poor infrastructure and the thousands of man-hours lost in traffic daily. These projects will, to a large extend, cut down costs for motorists in terms of fuel savings, lost man hours and vehicle maintenance costs.

The 485km highway will according to government sources, be expanded into a six lane highway from Mombasa to Nairobi.

It is expected to ease traffic snarl ups at the highway which is a critical artery for trade in the region for, it connects the Mombasa port to hinterland including Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

It has remained a single-carriage way for long despite increased traffic of buses and trucks ferrying goods and people daily. To enhance its effectiveness, the Nairobi-Nakuru-Mau Summit road is also slated for expansion.

 The government of Kenya is negotiating with the US export-import (Exim) bank for the financing of the multibillion-shilling project and expects to close the deal soon.

“We expect and hope that we are going to start the construction of this road in the next one year once we complete the talks,” said Peter Mundinia, the Director General, Kenha. “This is a major road that requires upgrading to curb the frequent traffic snarl-ups,” he added.

Even then, works have already started at sections of the highway notorious for traffic jams. These sections include the Mombasa-Mariakani section and the Athi River-Machakos turn off along the busy road.
The Athi River-Machakos turn-off, a stretch of 20km will cost US$51.2m the project is being constructed by the China Railway 21st Bureau Group Company Limited.
 The 20km section will be made a ual carriage and will have two new bridges one measuring 98m for Mombasa bound traffic and another of 50m for traffic headed to Nairobi.
The Mombasa bound will be the longest bridge along the Northern Corridor.

The KeNHA expects the upgrade of the turnoff to be completed in 2018. 

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Africa to launch single air transport market in 2018

Africa to launch single air transport market in 2018

Africa plans to have a single air transport market by 2018 , David Kajange, the Head of the Transport and Tourism Division at the African Union (AU) has announced.
Over 40 countries are expected to be signatories by then. So far, 20 African countries out of 55 have subscribed to the African single air market.
Mr Kajange,  was speaking during the ongoing 29th AU summit, which is underway in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.
The single air transport market is one of the goals of AU’s Agenda 2063, aiming to connect Africa through aviation and other transport infrastructure to achieve integration and boost intra-Africa trade.
The single air transport market also aims to boost African nations’ tourism, economic growth and economic development.
“Africa became the most expensive air transport market in the world because of individual nations’ policies and regulations that hinder air connectivity,” said David Kajange.
According to Euroavia International, a firm specializing in consulting services for airports and aviation industry, air transport in Africa is on average twice as expensive as the world average.
Since 1980s, an African Open Skies vision has been there, culminating in the adoption of the Yamassoukro Decision of African Heads of States of November 14, 1999.
Between 2004 and 2014, an increasing business and tourism sector and growing middle class, the market share of African airlines has dropped dramatically despite sustained economic growth on the continent.The loss of market share by African airlines has been estimated by the AU to have been from 60% to below 2%.
Meanwhile the AU is mediating to resolve potential electoral disputes in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) and Gabon. Minata Samate Cessouma, Commissioner for Political Affairs at the AU, said that, resolving electoral disputes is at the heart of ensuring welfare of the continent’s youth.
 From Construction Review