*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

Eucalyptus Tree introduced in 1902 is causing havoc to our water table ( Africa In General)

I have been meaning to post my views regarding the Blue Gum tree or Eucalyptus. Last week I travelled through Central province tower on my way to Isiolo . Mount Kenya is a major water tower . Well it is now facing imminent danger.

Right from Thika I noticed miles and miles of Eucalyptus trees on virtually every available space. What many Kenyans don’t realise is that the Eucalyptus tree also known as Blue Gum is not an indigenous tree. It was introduced to Kenya around 1902 from Australia. It is a source of timber and fuel . It also fast growing. Many Kenyans have also been made to believe that they can sell the poles to Kenya Power who have now opted to use concrete poles which means many farmers will be left with poles that will end up as firewood or timber or left to continue to grow.

Now the sad part . Late Michuki warned us to uproot this trees from river banks while Nobel Laurette Wangari Mathai did not have kind words for it . She detested exotic trees for good reasons moreso the Blue Gum .

Entire 250KM + is nothing but Eucalyptus trees. Each tree gulps anything between 60 to 200 Litres a day

During my trip I only saw two rivers flowing while a decade ago there more than 10 rivers. When I see news that Mwea Scheme is now drying up I am not surprised . Uncles Michuki and Nobel Laureate Wangari Mathai who are both deceased warned us ( May their souls Rest In Peace ) but we never listened.

Eucalyptus tree gulp between 60 and 200 litres a day per tree depending on age of the tree . Even wetland grabbers use them to drain the grabbed land . Note how Nairobi is also full of these trees.

This tree is also not kind to other plants . It releases a chemical that kills most other plants . Even birds dont find it attractive to build nests and the soil is left dry without any moisture. Even butterflies disappear. This aint rocket science , please visit any place with Eucalyptus trees. The soil is dry and cracking. No sign of moisture.

We plant the wrong tree and on the other hand we keep drilling more boreholes , folks the future ain’t looking good at all. If anything this tree should banned or strict controlled growing of same .

Kenya is officially a water stressed nation. If we fail to take action , one day you may have the money but there is no water to buy. Scary Isn’t it .

I have also said on numerous occasion that a messed up environment hits back with a vengeance. Nature does not file case in court .

I am NOT a science student but where have all the environmentalist gone ?

Way Forward. Farmers ought to get rid of this tree and replace with Bamboo which is more soil friendly and quick growing.

Looming disaster indeed but as always I choose to remain am optimist .

Mohammed Hersi

Chairman

Kenya Tourism Federation

Restoring Kibarani is a good thing but please spare us the articial turf & wildlife sculptures.

Artificial turf and wildbeeste sculptures at new Kibarani is a No No

While we commend Mombasa County and our Governor H.E Hassan Joho for cleaning up our city and closure of Kibarani we must also point out when things are not moving in the right direction.

Restoration of any site and more so a former dumpsite we must engage environmentalist and we are certainly not short of them . True environmentalists are like Doctors , they are so passionate about matters environment in that it is almost a calling.

I am an not environmentalist but I take very keen interest and I read widely on same besides without a healthy environment we can kiss goodbye to tourism.

I am shocked to see artificial turf being laid out at Kibarani. Artificial turf is not creative at all for a park . A park is meant to absorb heat , dust and rain. A park is meant to help a city breathe. Someone at the county is now getting obsessed with artificial turf and if it is a case of supplies let the contractor do some serious work of natural restoration. Laying an artificial turf is simply being lazy.

Artificial turf for the island kerbs along Mwembe Tayari we can live with that but at a public park which you are trying to restore is a big No .

We don’t have to reinvent the wheel , simply borrow a leaf from Haller Park and see what a true restoration should look like .

Man made pond in Butterfly Pavillion in Haller Park. Mombasa

We need indigenous trees , we need plants that can help clean the toxic dumpsite. We need to see water features to attract birdlife . When we have good growth of different species you attract insects, when you attract insects birds will follow and if you give them appropriate trees to nest then that becomes their home. A park is where you go to be with nature and some artificial turf is NOT nature. It does not absorb any heat it is the wrong thing to have .

A park is where you have benches and go to relax. Giving us sculptures of wildbeestes in Mombasa is a No No . Marine life is facing serious dangers , why not focus on endangered marine life ? Use the same to help our children learn about marine life . Set a marine theme around it .

I am afraid someone who is not creative is making nonsense of a very noble project . If they did JKIA with animal sculptures I am sorry this is the wrong concept and waste of time and money. My Bro Joho please don’t allow this to happen .

It is NOT too late and we can still do the right thing . Restoring Kibarani dumpsite with artificial turf and sculptures of wildlife is simply a shortcut and lacking creativity.

One final bit , let’s not get overly excited about removing the causeway . That causeway is holding 50 years of trash. Are we ready for all that trash to swamp the beach and our waters ?? We must mitigate how to keep away the trash from moving across to Tudor, English Point open seas then to Diani and Watamu . It will be catastrophic.

Think hard folks

Mohammed Hersi
Chairman
Kenya Tourism Federation

Kenya We Are UNBOWED.

The Kenyan Smile qualifies to be The Big Six

On behalf of Kenyas tourism fraternity we would like to send our heartfelt condolences to all those who lost their loved ones . Those of us in the hotel industry we lost people known to us . Many innocent Kenyans going about their daily chores met untimely death.

To the injured we pray for your quick recovery . To the affected businesses we pray for you to rise like the proverbial bird Phoenix .

To our gallant brave forces YOU guys are special , Kenya Red cross and very many brave Kenyans and many other people including members of the International community who took part in the rescue process we cannot thank you enough.

Kenyas Special Elite Force swing into action.

We are unbowed and as Kenyans we are stronger more than ever before .

Terror attacks should NOT define Kenya. We are peace loving people. We are ONE of the friendliest humans on mother earth. A Kenyan smile is so natural that it compliments the Big 5 that attracts millions to visit Kenya . The fact that many Diplomats and expatriates would find any reason to remain behind after their term of office is enough proof that Kenya is one of the best places to call home. I would never trade Kenya for anything else.

Within hours of the attack Kenyans of all walks of life rushed to the nearest hospitals that were expecting casualties to donate blood. Within an hour blood banks were full and a stand down was issued. As night fell at the scene of the incident ordinary Kenyans came to serve a hot meal to the rescuers. An old lady was on site on her own to serve hot tea to keep everyone warm as they worked hard to secure safe passage for anyone still trapped in the building. This is the true spirit of Kenya , this is who we are .

For tourism , 5 or 10 years ago the world would have isolated us when such an attack happened but not anymore. The same has happened in far more sophisticated cities like London , Brussels , Paris New York et al. No city in the world can claim to be 100 insulated from a terror attack . We thank the International community for standing with Kenya and these days they are not quick to judge and punish the victims a second time with painful travel advisories. When it happened in Paris , world leaders converged there as a show of solidarity .

We are down but never out. Kenyans are resilient, our will to thrive is as strong as steel and as brave as a lion. If you had planned to come to visit Kenya please do so , nothing should stop you . We live here close to 50 million of us , We are not about to relocate. We sleep and wake up here. Our children go to school right here . We lead normal lives so anyone asking you to defer your travel plans would be totally ignorant. You are not any safer in LA or New York , London or Mumbai , Paris or Madrid.

To the media including the local media, to report you must but do it with decorum and civility. The victims are already traumatised enough . Splashing their terrified faces as headlines in your papers is quite insensitive . To the likes of New York Times you cannot have two set of rules . We have never seen a picture of the hundreds killed by shooters across America. Journalism ethos is global and victims anywhere in the world deserve their privacy.

Our security forces have nibbed many other planned attacks behind the scenes . When one one attack happens please keep in mind that 10 others have been foiled some very serious ones and our security team work 24/7 round the clock to protect us. If Kenya is safe for ordinary Kenyans then it should also be safe for you as our visitor.

God Bless Magical Kenya and as always I choose to remain an optimist.

Mohammed Hersi
Chairman
Kenya Tourism Federation

Nairobi Traffic Mess. We need a mass system like Bangkok & Addis. Not more roads.

A sky train saves on space .

Our city of Nairobi is slowly grinding to a halt and thanks to the traffic mess and clueless city fathers for the last many years . None other than Ricahrd Quest of CNN noticed the snail pace of vehicular traffic which undermines all the efforts by the goverment to attract any FDI. A couple of years ago I did share my thoughts on how to rid Nbi off traffic gridlock and why I felt building a suspended road along Uhuru Highway was such a bad idea.

My position has still not not changed. I have been fortunate enough to visit Bangkok and next door Addis Ababa who recently launched their light sky train. We need a sky train in the middle of Mombasa Road and Uhuru highway and NOT a suspended highway.

I note that GOK seems to be in the final stages to build a suspended highway that will also serve JKIA and hopefully they claim it it will be on a toll charge.

In light of the recent mess , what Nbi needs is NOT more roads . What Nbi now needs is an orderly mass transport system .We claim Nbi’s population is now too high , please allow me to remind you that Bangkok is hitting 20 Million while Cairo is also very similar while Nbi is yet to even hit 4Million officially and we are already tired with traffic gridlock. What will happen if we do nothing and we get to 10 Million?

Addis sky train . If Addis can do it let it inspire Nairobi

Nairobi and even those who own cars would be happy to take a sky train and leave their cars at home . I will be happy to take my train at JKIA to downtown Nbi .

What we need in Nairobi are three major lines just like Bangkok. One line should run from Athi River and in future Machakos all the way to Kangemi through Uhuru Highway.

2nd line from Ongata Rongai through Haile Sellassie through Kariokor along Thika Higway to Thika and Makutano.

3rd line outer ring to serve Eastlands. Close the rubbish tired Kenya Railways.

Each train has close to 8 coaches and each coach can take 60 pax which means 3 Manyangas or 25 seater PSV . Goverrmnt and Nairobi county under a PPP will build the line then Matatu Saccos will lease the coaches which means the current Matatus workers will be absorbed to run these lines which means job loss fears would have been addressed.

This could be Mombasa Road / Uhuru Highway

Many Nairobians drive to town . Get a secure parking and hit the city on foot. If given an option they will happily leave their car at home sparing Nbi the traffic gridlock.

I am not a transport expert but I keep my eyes open when I travel so how comes our policy makers cannot see such simple options to fix our traffic gridlock.

As you read this over the weekend, it is my prayer that our go goverment and donors abandon the suspended road from the airport but opt for sky train.

Without addressing a good mass transport system I am sorry anything else like extra road Thika highway style is waste of time . It will be just a matter of time before traffic takes over. You can build nore roads in future but first we must prioritise a mass transport system

Well as always I choose to remain an optimist but sadly time is of the essence .

Mohammed Hersi

Chairman

Kenya Tourism Federation

KQ workers strike call ahead of Nbi/ New York inaugural flight in bad taste .

The call by KQ staff through their union to strike is in very bad taste.

Very many players have worked very hard for this Nairobi / New York flight . I am not suggesting that union issues are ignored , far from it .

Why does the union want to make it look like the Nbi / NY is a one off flight ? It’s like if  they don’t get a deal before this flight then  it is the end of negotiations , It is not . They are already doing long haul Nairobi London . Nbi Guangzou etc. I am pretty sure the management will strike a deal.

KQ is just getting out of its financial troubles yet the same staff were all silent when the airline was literally destroyed by inept leadership that ended with one of the largest loss any corporate has ever registered in Kenya. KQ was looted to the core with all kind of financial malpractice you could imagine. They were all silent then.

Banks have turned their loans into equity reluctantly , is this how to reward that sacrifice ? GOK is bailing you out with tax payers money , is this the reward you are giving us ?

The staff at KQ must get serious and I am afraid this time round you are treading on dangerous grounds. Your call for a strike is nothing but sabotage and ought to be dealt with accordingly. Union issues is work in progress and should not be allowed to jeopardise our first Nairobi / New York flight. We have worked so tireless to get it on the  runway ready for take off  and any hurdle placed on its way is nothing but pure sabotage and lack of patriotism.

We should borrow a leaf from Singapore Airline when staff repeatedly called for strike and Lee Kuan Yew then Prime Minister read the riot act . He clearly said that he was willing to ground the airline to teach them a lesson , since he has had enough. I think it’s high time we dealt with these bad apples once and for all.

Well as always I choose to remain an optimist that common sense will prevail

Mohammed Hersi
Chairman
Kenya Tourism Federation

Most of the illegally stashed funds in foreign accounts end up as unclaimed funds .

This week we came to learn that several Kenyans are hiding their wealth both lawfully gained and some illegally made in foreign secret accounts across several countries with the bulk domiciled in Europe.

Dogs moreso the mongrels that roam urban centres love to bury the bones they collect

When I teach Governance I give the dogs analogy matters corruption in Africa. A dog and moreso the mongrels that you find in urban centres scavenging . They will attack a weaker dog and take away the bone it has been eating. Instead of eating that bone as a start  , it will go and bury it then come back to attack the next weaker dog. The Ill mannered mongrel is purely on a hunter gatherer mode driven by a serious scarcity mentality.

It will do this over & over again in the course of the day until there are no more weak dogs with a bone . A dog has a habit of burying bones, it might be due to an intense hereditary survival instinct. Dogs in the wild buried bones as a means of storing them to use at a later time.

Well with nature sometimes it  starts to rain & the dog feels hungry & naturally it will remember that oh I had a bone somewhere . Now dogs are not very good with their sense of smell moreso in a rainy wet environment. It’s muddy, messy & it finally goes to sleep hungry and cold. More often than not it may never find that bone & most likely it will be swept away by the floods.

Now the corrupt humans holding public office will hide their loot somewhere in Europe. I have heard many times that no civil servants should have a foreign account . You certainly need good amount to sustain a foreign account. Most of the funds are wired to some secret accounts that even their loved ones including wife(s) do not know they exist . We are all too familiar with the Panama accounts.

In old age their memory is failing them & they are no longer able to remember where they stashed the loot ( where they hid the bone ) . Most of the accounts dont even bear their names let alone remember them . Sick ,frail with failing memory ordinary people will then be asked to contribute for their medical & even for their funeral.

Hiding their loot is very similar to what the dog was doing. The weak dog is Eg funds for free primary school , youth fund , funds meant for ARV’s , hospital funds , water projects etc. If only the dog enjoyed that one bone , if only the real looters could be limited to that one bone , if only the loot could have been invested in Africa to create employment etc it would have made a huge difference.

At some point close to £360M stashed by one Sani Abachi was sent back to Nigeria at least this was not marked as unclaimed funds. Please don’t be that dog attacking weaker dogs. If you must please when you hide that ‘ bone’ share the location so that it does not go unclaimed .