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European Union cuts KDF pay in Somalia by Sh4.9bn

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European Union cuts KDF pay in Somalia by Sh4.9bn


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Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) in Somalia. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Donor reimbursements to Kenya for its troops fighting Al-Shabaab militia in Somalia have been cut 66 percent or Sh4.9 billion in the new financial year starting July, as the UN-backed planned date for exit draws closer.

A report tabled in Parliament by the Treasury showed that the European Union (EU) and its partners are expected to refund Sh2.5 billion for the new fiscal year, down from Sh7.4 billion in the ending 2020/2021 window as funding dries out because of African Union Mission in Somalia’s (Amisom) planned handover to Somali security forces in December.

The grants to Kenya are usually made through the African Union Peace Facility. Soldiers fighting militants in Somalia usually serve for one year, which may be extended by a few months or cut short depending on the situation.

Conservative estimates earlier showed the international community pays $1,028 (Sh112,052) for each soldier per month. Their respective governments then deduct about $200 (Sh21,800) for administrative costs, meaning the soldiers take home about $800 (Sh87,200).

The EU funds largely cater for allowances for the Amisom troops and police, international and local civilian staff salaries, and operational costs of their offices.

The United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS), on the other hand, provides logistical field support to the Amisom troops and Somali National Security Forces during joint operations.

The refunds to Kenya have been falling with indications that Nairobi has gradually been reducing its defence forces from the war-torn country.

A leaked audit report by PwC Associates Ltd (Mauritius) earlier this year queried payment of soldiers who had left the mission, pointing to weak accountability measures in the payroll that resulted in the possible loss of millions of dollars between 2016 and 2018.

The 15-member African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council on May 11 extended Amisom’s stay in Somalia to December 31 from an earlier date of March 14 after the country failed to conduct a presidential poll in February.

The move by the AU’s top decision-making organ on conflict management and prevention was in line with the UN Security Council’s resolution on March 12, reauthorising Amisom to maintain its 19,626 officers in Somalia.

Somalia’s president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, better known as Farmaajo, in late April dropped plans to seek a two-year extension of his term in office and called for fresh presidential polls amid rising tension in the capital, Mogadishu.

He had controversially approved the move after disagreements over how to hold elections — provoking three days of clashes in Mogadishu between rival factions of the security forces.

The stand-off drew condemnation by the international community amid fears that it risked throwing the country back into the clan-based violence that scarred the country after the fall of the Siad Barre regime in 1991.

Somali elections are conducted under a complex indirect system where clan elders select MPs, who in turn choose the President.

President Farmajo’s mandate expired in February but no vote has been held because of regional squabbles over how power is distributed – and a row over a new electoral commission.

US President Joe Biden plans to deploy American special troops to Kenya to help in the region’s counter-terrorism efforts.

In a letter to the US Congress, President Biden said that he had approved sending special operation troops to Kenya, which is expected to collaborate with the Kenyan military in combating
Al-Shabaab. The number of troops is not indicated.

Specialist missions

Foreign nation military partners with US Security Force Assistance Teams or Brigades (SFABs) like the ones expected to be deployed for training specialist missions in Kenya are specialised units formed to train, advise, assist, enable and accompany operations with allied and partner nations.

Designed on the model of a standard infantry brigade combat team, SFABs is composed of roughly 800 personnel, primarily commissioned and non-commissioned officers selected from regular army units.

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KQ resumes Mumbai flights after 4 months

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KQ resumes Mumbai flights after 4 months


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A Kenya Airways aircraft at JKIA. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Kenya Airways will on Thursday resume flights to Mumbai, ending a four-month hiatus that was occasioned by increased cases of Covid-19 in the Asian state.
  • The airline in a notice to its customers yesterday said it will resume its operations on the route on September 16, 2021 with the first flight departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 7am to arrive in Mumbai at 3:45 pm.

Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ will on Thursday resume flights to Mumbai, ending a four-month hiatus that was occasioned by increased cases of Covid-19 in the Asian state.

The airline in a notice to its customers Monday said it will resume its operations on the route on September 16, 2021 with the first flight departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 7am to arrive in Mumbai at 3:45 pm.

The airline will then resume full operations on the route on September 20, flying three times per week on the Indian route, which is one of the most lucrative destinations on its network.

Passengers on the route will part with Sh46,000 ($419) for one-way air ticket on economy class seats from Nairobi to Mumbai- prices that are relatively the same compared to what it was charging before the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Welcome back onboard! Fly from Nairobi to Mumbai starting Thursday 16th September with normal schedules resuming from Monday 20th September 2021,” said the airline in a notice to its customers yesterday.

KQ Suspended passenger flights to and from Mumbai on April 30 until further notice, following a government directive on travel between India and Kenya due to a Covid-19 crisis in that country.

The airline said on Friday that passengers who had booked tickets after May 1, the date of the last flight from Mumbai to Nairobi, will have to change their plans.

Affected passengers, KQ said, could also take vouchers for the value of their fare for future travel within 12 months.

India has seen soaring infection rates in the recent days, since the discovery of a new virus variant. Last month, India put on lockdown one of the states following a spike in cases of Covid-19.

Other countries that have banned flights to India include France, the UK Bangladesh, Oman and Hong Kong that have banned travel to and from India or asked their nationals coming from the Asian country to isolate themselves in government-approved hotels.

India has so far detected 33,264,175 corona virus cases with the number of deaths hitting 442,874 as at September 13.

A large number of patients from Kenya also travel to India every year for specialised medical treatment, especially cancer care, helping to drive medical tourism in the densely populated country that boasts affordable and easily accessible healthcare.

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Lower import volumes push mitumba prices to new highs

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Lower import volumes push mitumba prices to new highs


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Man pulls a cart loaded with second-hand clothes at Gikomba Market in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Traders paid Sh100,527 on average per tonne of the used clothes, popularly called mitumba, compared to Sh96,286 the previous year.
  • Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) banned importation of the clothes from late March through mid-August in a bid to contain the spread of the life-threatening coronavirus infections.
  • Findings of the Economic Survey 2021 suggests dealers shipped in 121,778 tonnes of mitumba in 2020, a 34.02 percent fall compared with 2019 and the lowest volumes since 2015.

The average price of a tonne of second-hand clothing items imported into the country crossed the Sh100,000 mark for the first time last year on reduced volumes in the wake of safety protocols and guidelines to curb spread of coronavirus.

Traders paid Sh100,527 on average per tonne of the used clothes, popularly called mitumba, compared to Sh96,286 the previous year.

Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) banned importation of the clothes from late March through mid-August in a bid to contain the spread of the life-threatening coronavirus infections.

Findings of the Economic Survey 2021 suggests dealers shipped in 121,778 tonnes of mitumba in 2020, a 34.02 percent fall compared with 2019 and the lowest volumes since 2015.

Last year’s drop was the first dip since 2011 when 76,533 tonnes were shipped in compared with 80,423 tonnes the previous year, the official data collated by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows.

The import bill for the merchandise amounted to Sh12.24 billion, a drop of 31.11 percent, or Sh5.53 billion, year-on-year.

TIn imposing the temporary ban on used clothes, Kebs had applied a standard which prohibits buying second-hand clothes from countries experiencing epidemics to ensure disease-causing microorganisms are not imported into Kenya.

Higher quality and relatively lower prices for mitumba has continued to drive demand for used clothes at expense of locally-made products amid higher margins enjoyed by traders largely operating in informal markets.

The lucrative second-hand clothing market has seen traders from China —a key source market for the merchandise —open shops in Gikomba, Kenya’s largest informal market for mitumba, in recent years to cash in rising demand.

Earnings from exports of articles of apparel and clothing accessories fell 5.32 percent to Sh32.92 billion last year compared with 2019, data indicates.

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Court backs Atwoli union in horticulture membership feud

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Court backs Atwoli union in horticulture membership feud


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Cotu boss Francis Atwoli. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • A trade union that is led by the long-serving Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli has survived an attempt to stop it from representing over 60,000 workers in the horticulture industry.
  • Newly registered Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture, and Allied Workers Union (Kefhau) had filed as a case in the Employment and Labour seeking to bar the Atwoli-led Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) from representing workers in the industry.

A trade union that is led by the long-serving Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli has survived an attempt to stop it from representing over 60,000 workers in the horticulture industry.

Newly registered Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture, and Allied Workers Union (Kefhau) had filed as a case in the Employment and Labour seeking to bar the Atwoli-led Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) from representing workers in the industry.

Mr Atwoli is the secretary-general of KPAWU. The rival union claimed KPAWU had encroached on its area of workers’ representation.

Justice James Rika, however, dismissed the claim and ruled that the dispute should have been taken through conciliation, and was therefore presented in court prematurely.

He also stated that Kefhau must go beyond its registration and recruit sufficient members from the employers, to be granted recognition and organisational rights.

“Registration on its own, does not afford the claimant (Kefhau) recognition. Until there is proof that Kefhau has satisfied Section 54 of the Labour Relations Act, the status quo must be maintained,” said the judge.

“Kefhau must recruit at least 50 percent plus one, of the unionisable employees in the floriculture and horticulture industry, members of the Agricultural Employers Association to be considered for recognition,” he stated.

He noted that there is a Recognition Agreement and CBA, binding Mr Atwoli’s union and Agricultural Employers Association, affecting 73 Flower Growers Group of employers, and over 60,000 employees.

“It is objectionable for Kefhau to be allowed organisational rights, and the legitimacy to receive trade union dues and agency fees, from over 60,000 employees, just on the strength of registration as a trade union,” said the judge.

Kefhau wanted the court to declare that it is the sole trade union, which is allowed by its constitution to carry out activities in the export floriculture and vegetable industry, and an order restraining Mr Atwoli’s from representing workers in that area.

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