Nationalizing Kenya Airways? We have walked that path before. Please drop the plan.

Matters Kenya Airways.

While KQ team had proposed a SPV to be allowed to run JKIA it failed to get the nod and at the end the plan was abandoned.

Outgoing MD made it clear, if KQ is not given the approval to take over JKIA then it will be a dead end for KQ. He has finally resigned and waiting to exit come December.

Well our Honourable Members have now been left to decide the destiny of our national carrier. While some have proposed privatisation others are now pushing for full nationalisation.

The ones supporting full nationalisation claim that Ethiopia, Rwanda and even Emirates are all run and owned by the state hence why they are successful. Well those three countries have a different mindset and maybe even a unique DNA.

It is clear that we at times actually many times suffer from serious selective amnesia. Why would anyone forget that KQ was at one time GOK owned 100% and it was one of the worst times when it was run like most of our badly run parastatals. It was so bad that flights hardly left on time and more often than not you find yourself getting bumped out to create space for some last minute high ranking state official with his family. A head of state could virtually hijack an entire commercial aircraft for days on end on some state visit completely disrupting the flight schedules. It was at one time worse than a matatu and all that happened when it was state-owned.

Then Brian Davies walked in and carried out serious radical surgery and KQ even got listed in 1995. It was one of the few shares that you were proud to own. When Brian Davies exited the scene one of our own again showed up and sent it back to the rat hole.

I am totally against full state ownership for the following reasons .

1. We just don’t have the business mindset to separate what is state and what is personal. The moment it is state owned any high-ranking official will call the shots . Don’t look any further , National Bank , NHIF, Kenya Pipeline , Kenya Power et al. Please don’t drag in KCB and claim it is state owned. leadership at KCB is no nonsense but a strict CBK and a strict Governor are also not allowing any games to be played there . CBK is doing that role as a regulator.

2. Even under the current set up most of those aircrafts are leased and truth be said they belong to some of us . If someone is able to buy a plane and lease it to KQ they should indeed buy the airline and let them show us how great they are in business.

3. It is also clear that KQ needs serious radical surgery and more so downsizing then seek a fresh growth plan once again. KQ need to rationalize their staffing and inevitably many will have to leave but the moment you touch that then all hell is let loose. I am not surprised that the union leader is already supporting nationalization since he very well knows that siesta begins as soon as GOK takes over 100%. Show me one guy who has been fired by goverment for non performance.

My proposal on way forward.

1. GOK has no business sending good money after bad money . Seek a strategic investor to do that . If we bail out KQ once again it will NOT be the end of it . Please prepare for more bailouts using tax payers money . Please keep in mind that the faceless firms that have leased the planes to KQ are happy with this arrangement.

2. Get a serious strategic investor to buy majority shareholding . Can you imagine if Emirates were approached and in return GOK was to retain say 30% while the strategic investor takes 70%.

3. Any serious airline today is hungry to penetrate Africa. KQ is already well positioned flying to 42 countries. We are weak on cross continental and good for governance and that is where say Emirates come in. I am choosing Emirates because I find them hungry truly hungry for Africa and Nairobi becomes their hub in Africa . It is the only way we can deal with Ethiopian who have simply made leaps and bounds.

4. A strategic investor will then take charge and make it work . The faceless investors who are currently guaranteed of returns by GOK bailouts will have to take a walk including the employees who are not used to performance contracting.

There is nothing about KQ that makes it state strategic installation . It is already badly run for two decades , what is so strategic about a loss making outfit in billions of an airline? Folks it is nothing but a cow to be milked dry.

I am not for Qatar with all their issues against the rest of the GCC . I am pretty sure no European airline has the appetite for Africa hence even KLM is pussy footing to commit any fresh funds. It is about time for a fresh new suitor. Let KLM also ship out.

KQ maybe damaged goods but trust me serious investors will jump in at anytime as long as the rent seekers are paid off once and for all and kept far far away.

To Honourbale MPs. Please reject completely any plans to nationalise KQ. Please drain the swamp let a new player come in and on one condition to the investor they must retain the name Kenya Airways maybe Kenya Airways operated by XYZ and JKIA and by extension Mombasa remain a hub.

Any other plan is simply wasting tax payers money .

Yours truly

Mohammed Hersi

Dear Kenyan MP, your greed is now beyond the mark.

Open Letter To Our MP’s.

Open Letter To Our MP’s.

Dear Elected & Nominated Member Of Parliament,

I hope and trust that this note finds you in good health. It is two + years since most of you found their way to that August house where laws of the land are crafted and supposedly the well being of the nation are meant to be debated.

Some of you have been relected numerous times that you now consider parliament your second home. Well if your electorate gave you the mandate who are we to say no.

Allow me to remind you , that house is meant to be a place of respect where members are meant to serve the nation. To serve as an MP was more of a calling until some 15 years ago when greed overcome many of you. All we hear these days is about demands for more and more perks.

Your current demand will see your pay rise to anything between $21,000 and $29,000 not to mention all the other perks you are demanding with a gun on the head of SRC. I have taken the liberty to share benchmarks with rest of the world and you will notice that indeed you are the queer lot.

You actually think a car grant of $50,000 is peanuts so you are now demanding to double the same to $100,000. How many companies give such perks ? What makes you think we truly owe you all this ? You knew very well how much you were going to earn way before taking up the job. You don’t start a new job then go on a salary review chasing perks every now and then. If anything you are violating our rights as voters the employer and tax payers. That alone is enough grounds to dismiss you .

While you get paid a salary you still want to be paid another allowance called sitting allowance and now not less than 17 other allowances which simply means we pay you double for doing your work .

While you get full medical cover for self and family , without any shame you now demand cover for a second spouse. It is high time we called you put. Surely second spouse is a choice you make . If you can’t maintain her that is your problem. If it was private sector and some of you are employers would you allow your employee to make such a demand ? While you demand such your electorates are busy sharing ward beds and cant acess basic health care.

Kenyans maybe silent and may look helpless but trust me you are pushing your luck too far . You may have chosen to climb the ivory tower and you no longer see reality but I will tell you for free that Kenyans are hurting. You yes you are now upsetting Kenyans . Majority of your voters do not even know where their next meal will come from while you trash what you are served in the eatery in that house. Well if you strongly believe what you are served is not to your standard there are many places close by where you can eat what fits your palate. While the rest of the world is talking and exploring means to achive the Millennium Development Goals now Sustainable goals you are busy discussing what type of menu we must serve you , seriously ?

In African culture we hardly discuss matters food so I will not belabour that point.

Folks there are many more pressing issues that you need to be addressing as opposed to chasing these perks that make you look so bad. You indeed make us look bad as a nation in the eyes of the world.

Finally many of you are people known to us and some of you are my friends. How comes none of you is choosing to be a voice of reason and stand up for what is right . We are also aware that many of you are yet to even make that maiden speech but are active every weekend hurling abuse to both real and imagined enemies while busy dividing the same poor Kenyans with your tribal and regional narrow cheap thoughts .

Let me remind you were never forced to go to that house . If you think the pay and perks is not adequate enough , please feel free to resign and go seek greener pastures . Kenya is big and the world is even bigger . Let us know how that goes.

For you to harrass Kenyans day in day out is nothing but being insensitive to their plight.

Go reflect and please reflect hard. Soon Kenyans may simply choose to handle you the way Ukrainians handled their MP’s by looking for the nearest garbage bin. Trust me Kenyans are edging to the tipping point with your unbridled greed. Well at least you will not say I never warned you .

The donkey is now tired . Punda Amechoka.

Yours Disgusted Kenyan Voter

Mohammed Hersi
Mombasa.

Dear Captain Wanyama & Team , you can soar in Egypt .

Harambee Stars Team looking sharp and ready before departing for Egypt from their training base in France

Dear Captain Wanyama , Coach Migne & Team,

Well the wait is over and you will be parading against the best teams in African football as you carry the hopes of a whole nation.

We have always been referred to as minnows matters football but Captain you graced the Champions league finals with Totenham. In your early years you single handed marked Messi out of a champions league game when you played for Celtics.

Monsieur Migne , you are not new in Africa . If you could survive in DRC then Kenya must be some little haven for you . Monsieur trust me this time round our football fathers have really behaved and of course thanks to our goverment when they accepted your home country as a venue for final build up. Well the team truly loved the facilities and our minister did promise to ask the French goverment to help us build a similar training facility. I think my sister only needs to remind our goverment that indeed they promised us not 1 or 2 but 6 stadias. If only they keep their promise we shall have plenty of places to train that we can even hire out to foreign teams .

To the team , Kahata you recall that curving free kick one hot afternoon in Kalabar in Nigeria and for the first time Super Eagles were staring at defeat in the hands of Harambee stars right in their backyard. We want to see more of that . I have seen you do it for mighty K’Ogalo time and again. Yes you can replicate the same in the land of Mo Salah.

Joash , Kenyans as always make fun of anything and everything . Your image with dyed beard was trending for the wrong reasons. What many don’t know is that as the last man you sacrificed to earn a red card against Ghana which made Harambee carry the day . If Ronaldo had dyed his hair they would have said it was fashion. Joash just ignore them and shine.

Patrick Matasi your save pair of hands virtually denied the Ethiopians both in Nbi and Bahar Dar. They had no choice they even hired you at St George’s after your exploits. Keep focused . Please avoid dangerous tackles that can gift our opponents with a penalty.

Abud Omar , despite all the ups and downs in Eastern Europe you still maintained your sanity to retain your spot in our national team . Go for it . Mahrez or Mane should NOT scare you.

Michael Olunga you belong to Premier league and Serie A and not some league in Japan for semi retired dudes. Afcon is your golden chance to shine and be spotted. I have no doubt you got what it takes .

Musa Mohammed , get inspired by your boxer sister Zarika who is punching her way to fame despite all the challenges boxers face in Kenya. Be inspired by Musa Otieno who stood tall in defence for Kenya for a decade.

John Avire, keep in mind monsieur coach opted to have youthful you . Please don’t disappoint him . So far in the friendlies you have shown loads of promise.

Masoud Juma my Bro from Isiolo you may currently be unattached but you still remain skilful and full of power. I still have alot of faith in you . You stormed the premier league 3 years ago and off you went down south to join Cape Town City . It’s clear things did not go well as planned but this is a chance for you to bounce back .. As unattached player it means you are ready to sign for a team. Kaka you belong to Europe go for it.

Ayub Timbe oh my oh my you danced your way between those Congolese players in that last friendly. Erick Johanna, and the rest of the team dance with the ball. Be at ease with it and make us proud . If Brazilians can do it so can you .

Be inspired by Peter Dawo the man who single handed dismantled Esperance of Tunisia. Be inspired by our Rugby7s team who show dust to many rugby power houses across the world , be inspired by Eliud Kipchoge the man who wants to be the first living human being to run the marathon in sub 2 Hrs.

We have endless inspirations.

To FKF and CS Amina . Thank You for taking good care of our team and there is no reason why we cannot reach the Quarters.

Please join me to wish our team the best of luck

As always I choose to remain an optimist

Mohammed Hersi
Chairman
Kenya Tourism Federation

A double decker JKIA Westlands road is simply wasting money.

I will NEVER tire saying this

Addis Ababa have replicated what Bankgok has done. Sky train not a double decker road.

Nairobi does NOT need a double decker road from the airport to Westlands. It’s simply waste of money. If only building a wider road could solve our traffic headache why is Thika highway already a mess?

What we need is a working mass public transport system. I shared this same solution 10 years ago and many times again. Since then Dar implemented a well thought out BRT system NOT waking up and painting some tarmac then announce that we now have a BRT. I recall sharing images of Bangkok who managed to mitigate big time their choking traffic gridlock.

Well this time I share a very similar image but this time it is right next door in Addis Ababa. Look at the street below devoid of cars.

JKIA to Westlands or even Athi River to Kangemi thousands will leave their cars at home and hop on to this sky train. Well you only get to do this if your eyes are open on those benchmarking trips .

Same can be done in Mombasa . MIA all the way to Mtwapa and in future MIA to Diani.

Finally the fear that Matatu owners will be out of business is simply misplaced . If you own 20 matatus a sacco can own several coaches. A PPP can build the line , lease the line to anyone . Virgin Trains don’t own the railway line.

What is so hard in doing this ? You want to leave a legacy then this is it. In under 3 years this can be done. I believe it can be done and Nairobi can regain some sanity

When public transport works the rich ride the train the poor buy cars.

Well as always I choose to remain an optimist.

Mohammed Hersi

Chairman

Kenya Tourism Federation

You are either a PSV ( Matatu) or TSV ( Tourist Service Vehicle ). Sorry you can’t shift lanes.

PSV Vehicles / Matatus as Tour Vans .

Ministry Of Tourism & Wildlife have now banned PSVs in our national parks as along as they are not TSV qualified. TSV is Tourist Service Vehicle be it domestic or International. There are strict rules to gollow to qualify and it is managed by Tourism Regulatory Authority a GOK entity.

I have seen several write up where some of us including some of my friends have even gone ahead to claim it is racism. You know very well that when you claim there is racism in a case in Kenya the debate is lost before you even begin.

Fact: law was enacted where any firm intending to receive paying guests must apply for TSV license for both driver and the vehicle just the way you need PSV to operate as a Matatu.

First things first . The directive DOES NOT outlaw school buses if anything we encourage children to visit our park they are the future custodians of these God given resource. School buses are NOT PSVs and the directive is NOT targeting them .

Resident and anyone in a private car can also acess the park as self drive as long as they observe park rules but once they start taking paying clients then they must also conform, apply and meet the strict TSV license conditions . There is no compromise on that . Directive does NOT also outlaw private cars as long as it is a family and NOT paying passengers. You can only lie for a while if you are frequent with numerous passengers you want to qualify as ” family ” Same thing applies to PSV sector . If you attempted to use your personal car without a PSV license you’ll not know what hit you. Please ask probox owners .

Fact is that Matatus and PSVs have made nonsense of park rules and undermining all the good efforts by industry players to position Kenya as good safari destination .

Once a vehicle is a PSV and they are taking paying clients then they MUST apply for TSV and conform. One of the condition is a qualified guide not any dude who can drive. In the absence of that Matatus should stick to their lane. We DON’T invade their lane either but many times they invade ours making our industry look really bad. There is NO industry that does NOT have barriers to entry. Leading guides like Paul Kirui, Raphael Koikai, John Kangethe, Jay Kang’e will tell you how much they invest to be professional guides.

Lets be real , PSVs operate worse than cartels . Wake up and try to put your matatu on say Nbi Meru or Nbi Narok route without paying the cartels for the route and kickbacks . They even allocate you a driver and a manamba . They even decide how much to pay you. Then they want to do tourism business without any rules ? Never that must be stopped.

We want them to apply , qualify and buy TSV license which KATO does NOT control. They also don’t have to be in KATO to get TSV license and a qualified driver guide.

It is sad that some see racism in this move. Well we will not fall for that cheap stunt that sounds like a broken record. The Matatu and even that Uber at Nbi National Park were ferrying Mzungus who feel they got a good deal and in reality they’ve been ripped off with a very poor delivery and in the process making Kenya a cheap destination. If that visitor fell out of that Uber window he would be referred to as tourist and how lax we are with our park safety rules We are competing against TZ. Namibia . SA or Botswana and strict rules apply. While God has been kind enough wiyh great resource we will not a few rogue players to mess the tour industry.

How much game can you see in a Uber Chap Chap ? You saw the driver and his client half body out of the car. Is that what we are advocating for?

We see hundreds of private cars in our parks and we have no issue with that but we cannot have PSVs . Let them stick to their lane . They also have strict and punitive barriers to entry if you were to venture into that business.

Some claim tourism industry is an elitist industry. That claim holds no water. 100 % of our TSV vehicles are driven by Kenyans who are forced to qualify as guides and we can not advocate for a Matatu just to drive in and out as they please. Kenyans own the businesses and we employ thousands of Kenyans NOT guys from Siberia . We ain’t aliens .

Most of the time we keep giving the example of Rwanda , Dubai or Singapore where things work. Yes they work because they observe strict rules in anything they do. If we want law and order we must also start behaving in an orderly manner.

We fully support the move by our ministry to bring back sanity to our delicate industry. Let PSVs stick to their lane, TSVs do.

Mohammed Hersi
Chairman
Kenya Tourism Federation

Mara River Drying should be a wake up call. Reboot our brains

Once mighty Mara River now facing serious crisis

It is now official Mara River has virtually dried up a scenario never witnessed in the last 100 years.

Myriad of factors contribute to this state and key amongst them is the destruction of Mau forest which is the source of most of the rivers flowing across the greater Mara and finally Serengeti. That is not the aim of my piece this Sunday morning . Finger pointing won’t help us. We are also quick to blame global warming but truth is that 80% this is a self inflicted disaster.

On other hand wrong tree types replaced the indigenous trees at the water towers and the main culprit is the notorious Euclaptus trees that sucks water from the ground like no other trees does . This factor is also fueled by tea farms that are looking for easy quick cheap source of fuel to dry the tea leaves. Well the dry weather has now come to bite the same tea farms where 40,000 tea farms workers have been sent home.

Closer to my heart is tourism where we have marketed indeed over done it by selling Mara as a migration spectacle and indeed it is or was. Sadly we reduced Mara to a 3 months destination yet some of the best times to visit Mara is outside the migration period with less crowd and more cats and grazers. Simply put Mara is an all year round destination.

The news that Mara river is facing serious crisis is no longer news and I do not want to join the doom and gloom bandwagon. Yes it has dried , what next ?

Mara River virtually gone as we wait for rain water to replenish it.

Truth be said , most of our resources is God given and as Kenya we have put in almost no investment to sustain them. It is now time we did it and more so Narok county who draw resources from this great place. Kajiado, Nakuru , Taita Taveta are all yearning for an opportunity to manage Amboseli, Lake Nakuru and Tsavo respectively.

Is it about time that we considered several small dams in the Mara and regulate the rain water from upstream , I think my answer is yes . We have become so much used to free flowing water that we have taken it for granted that it will never dry.

What will small dams across Mara do ? Micro climate will be created while consistent flow of the river will be guaranteed throughout the year and even Serengeti downstream will be happy to see that the flow of the river is year all round .I may not be a scientist but i believe daming a river that is turning to be seasonal is the only solution in the short term. Once the animals have enough grass and then water to quench their thirst they will thrive . Water bodies world over is a birds paradise and today we are looking at loss of our birds due loss of our habitat. Evidence of habitat loss is when bird species start to vanish.

Long term we must go back to the root cause of the problem up at the water towers . Reforestation and at the same a goverment order that will ban notorious Eucalyptus ( Muyua Mai, there is a reason why Late Wangari Mathai hated this tree that was imported from Australia ) . The same tree is also wrecking havoc in Central Kenya where rivers once flowed freely they are now all turning to be dry rocky river beds. At this rate even River Tana is no longer safe which is source of our hydro power.

Then finally to my fellow tourism players , it is about time we reboot our mindset how we sell and package Mara. It is about time we sold Mara holistically year all round and not reduce Mara to a migration phenomenon. We all know that the Mara river is facing serious challenges and that may just may be force us to put on our thinking hats and sell Mara as Mara and not as a three months migration phenomenon.

Botswana , Namibia and even South Africa do not have rivers flowing year all round but they attract tourists year all long. Botswana is one dry Okavango delta most of the year but they attract high end tourists so is Namibia a dessert . Why do I get the feeling that nature is now forcing us to reboot our brains. To Narok county , it is about time you invested back into this cash cow called Masai Mara and bit by bit you can set up the dams and trust me micro climate will be created and in the process Mara will rejuvenate as nice premium park.

Those saying Mara is now dead without the Mara River are pessimists. Mara is not dead , it will only be dead if we refuse to think beyond the free God given resources. Mara is 1/16 the size of the massive Serengeti . In Mara you can see the big four in under one hour and sometimes even the big five.

Folks the Cheese has moved , it’s time we woke up to smell the coffee. Is saving Mara possible , of course it is .

As always I choose to remain an optimist.

Mohammed Hersi
Chairman
Kenya Tourism Federation

*Is it about time we completely privatised KQ.*

Considering the unnecessary heat the KQ / KAA proposed deal has caused is it about time we completely sold KQ. Then only serious and ethical companies will be fit enough to do business with a new KQ. Those who love cutting deals will be locked out while no more tax payers bailouts will be needed. To nationalise KQ should NOT even be considered. We have been there before. We just do not have the discipline in respecting what is a GOK business. Ethiopians and the Emiratis are wired differently.

Safaricom was born out of that useless cash cow called KPTC which was milked dry by half literate political appointees of the 70s and 80s . Rest as they say is history. USA does NOT have a national carrier so can we.

Instead of trying to craft a KQ / KAA deal what about crafting a deal to off load GOK shareholding but with a rider that the name is retained . With MJ as Chair at KQ he handled the incubation of Safaricom before it was airborne . We can also get investors who will turn KQ into a Safaricom like outfit and privatisation will keep the lazy thieving hands at bay.

I am pretty sure many serious investors will pick KQ without thnking twice . KQ is a good viable business and there is no doubt it can regain its groove. Kenya is strategically located for any serious airline that wants to penetrate Africa. Kenya is only hours flight to any corner of Africa and that is a God given plus.

I really don’t mind KQ operated by Emirates, Delta or even Singapore Air, afterall Vodacom call the shots at Safaricom.

We can then focus to make our airports efficient and KAA will have to up its game as well . For now they may claim they are financially better off than KQ but it does not mean that KAA operations is anything to write home about. It’s about a dwarf insisting to be declared the tallest in the pack.

As long as we have KQ and the red tail, who owns it is really not an issue and we can say goodbye to constant bailouts.

Maybe jusy maybe the current team at KQ could be tasked to help in privatising KQ . With a single move the ongoing debate and labour issues will stop.

It is said it is only a fool who doesn’t change his mind others call it a paradigm shift and as always I choose to remain an optimist .

Mohammed Hersi