Kenya’s uneasy relationship with Tanzania seems not to go away while it is threatening to degenerate into a trade war, with Dar es Salaam banning three Nairobi airlines from its airspace this week.
The new round of feud was apparently triggered by Kenya’s move to exclude Tanzanians from travellers exempted from mandatory Covid-19 quarantine protocol.
Kenya’s action was motivated by the fact that Tanzania has been lax in the fight against Covid-19, and has not instituted restrictive measures to curb the spread of the disease.
Kenya, therefore, considers the neighbouring country high-risk, deserving a place on its red list. Piqued by Kenya’s move, Tanzania retaliated by pulling the plug on the three airlines, raising the list of barred operators to four, including Kenya Airways.
Bilateral ties between Kenya and Tanzania have been blowing hot and cold for decades now. Disputes seem to be always never far from the surface and only a slight spark is enough to ignite a diplomatic tiff such as the one playing out.
Diplomatic rows are a usual occurrence among nations, and especially so among neighbouring countries, as differences will always emerge. However, when feuds become as frequent as is the case between Nairobi and Dar, it becomes a source of concern that demands a comprehensive solution.
The simmering differences and political grandstanding between them have resulted in a cold war stance that has hurt ease of doing business within the East African Community (EAC).
Such constant spats are inimical to EAC’s vision of a region working in tandem to grow economies, foster a favourable investment environment, and ultimately improve the living standards of the people.
Whatever the source of the differences underpinning this endless ‘sibling’ rivalry, they can be addressed amicably in an atmosphere of good faith, magnanimity and commitment to cordial ties.
There is already a lot of trade between the two countries and this can only be enhanced when bilateral ties are cultivated and bolstered.
It’s time to look for permanent solutions to this circus of a standoff. The relations need to be reset in a way that will bring more benefits to the citizens of the two countries and beyond.
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