Kenya’s Airlines, Buses and Railways Cancel Operations in Wake of the Coronavirus
In what is an unprecedented move in the young democracy’s history, a majority of, if not all, of Kenya’s transportation companies traversing in and out of the country’s economic hub, have suspended their operations, effective 7th April 2020.
Yesterday, 6th April 2020, in a bid to counter the spread of the coronavirus which is wrecking havoc across the globe, Kenya’s government announced the cessation of all movement by road, rail or air, in and out of the Nairobi Metropolitan area (which encompasses the capital and parts of Kiambu, Machakos and Kajiado counties), Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale counties, for the next 21 days.
This effectively means that, for the first time in history, Eastern Africa’s regional air, road and rail hub has been cut off from not just her neighbours, but the rest of the globe, all in the wake of the coronavirus which has revolutionized human relations like never before.
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, the seventh busiest air hub on the continent, contributing about 1.1% to the country’s GDP, has all but been closed to civilians. The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority on 25th March 2020 closed Kenya’s airspace to all International scheduled and non-scheduled passenger flights, with the exception being operations of cargo flights, overflights, flights engaged in medical evacuations, repatriation and diplomatic flights aircraft in a State of Emergency, with guidelines from the Ministry of Health on flights making technical stops where passengers do not disembark.
“All our flights are hereby suspended as per the government directive with immediate effect until further communication on 26th April 2020.” read a post by Fly540, a regional airline headquarted in Nairobi and boasting 9 destinations, including Zanzibar and South Sudan‘s capital, Juba.
Regional Kenyan carrier Jambojet, an affiliate of the national airline, Kenya Airways, has announced the immediate suspension of all its operations, effective 7th April 2020.
SEE ALSO: Jambojet Launches Group Booking
In light of this new development, Jambojet has temporarily suspended all its operations up until 30th April 2020.
“We therefore regret to inform all our customers and business partners that all the flights for the said period are cancelled with immediate effect,” said a presser from the airline, adding that, “We would like to encourage all passengers scheduled to travel within the month of April 2020, to consider re-scheduling their travel plans to a later date at no extra cost.”
The Madaraka Express passenger rail service between Mombasa and Nairobi has also not been spared. “In conformity with the directive by the President; The two passenger service trains that have been operating daily at 10:30AM between Nairobi and Mombasa have been withdrawn forthwith,” announced Kenya Railways, assuring its customers that passengers who had purchased tickets prior to the directive will receive refunds.
On the roads, Modern Coast Express Limited, a bus service with over 55 destinations spread throughout East Africa, has cancelled its services until further notice.
“We unfortunately wish to inform our esteemed passengers that we have temporarily suspended all our travel services as Modern Coast. This is because all our buses either go though Nairobi or start their journey from Nairobi,” read a statement from the company. “All passengers that had already booked have an option of rescheduling their travel with a voucher provided valid for up to 90 days from today.”
Residents of the affected counties need not fret however, because while inter-county movement has been banned, intra-county travel is not, at least as at present. For instance, the Nairobi Commuter Rail service to Ruiru, Embakasi, Syokimau and Kikuyu stations, which lie within the Nairobi Metropolitan Area, will continue to operate normally.