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Aviation regulator issues warning on drones use

Gilbert Kibe
KCAA Director-General Gilbert Kibe. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) has prohibited the use of drones, warning that those violating the ban risk a fine of Sh100,000 or a year in prison.

The regulator said the use of the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) remain banned in Kenya following the move by the Parliament to annul the regulations that would have legalised them.

The move is a blow to firms offering drone-based services such as photography, as well as humanitarian, health and wildlife conservation sectors that use the devices for mapping activities.

KCAA Director-General Gilbert Kibe said Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia had in March published a notice prohibiting the use of drones in Kenya and that directive should be adhered to.

“The public is hereby reminded of this prohibition (use of UAVs), which shall apply to any person who imports, tests, operates … a remotely piloted aircraft (drones),” he said in a public notice on Wednesday.

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“The prohibition follows the annulment by Parliament of the regulations previously published by KCAA on March 21.”

Mr Kibe, however, notes that the agency has since incorporated the recommendations the Parliament and public made in the proposed draft.

The House annulled the Kenya Civil Aviation (Remote Piloted Aircraft Systems Regulations, 2017) after finding fault with several provisions.

The Committee on Delegated Legislation pointed out that there was limited public participation in drafting the regulations, in violation of the Constitution.

The committee also felt the proposed set of rules fell short of addressing issues that had been raised around safety, security and breach of personal privacy by drones in civilian hands under the Bill of Rights.

However the agency had submitted fresh regulations to the Parliament for approval, after which will it will be forwarded to Mr Macharia for adoption, paving the way for commercial use of drones in Kenya.

Hundreds of drones have so far been confiscated at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi as they were being imported at the time when there is no legal framework on drones in the country.

Stakeholders have complained that it has taken long for the regulations to be adopted, saying the move has hurt some of them who were ready to start using the equipment locally for different activities.

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