Shipping & Logistics

Kenya acts to make airports friendly for the disabled

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Transport and Infrastructure Secretary James Macharia has set up a team to review airport policies and procedures to suit disabled passengers as Kenya moves to comply with international standards.

The National Air Transport Facilitation Committee will also use its three-year tenure to establish interrelations and liaison with similar agencies in other states within East Africa and organise regional consultative meetings on facilitation matters.

Mr Macharia, through a Kenya Gazette notice, directed the team to also develop and review policies on clearance formalities applied to international air transport services.

The team has been tasked with ensuring that passengers, cargo and mail are cleared through the country’s airports in line with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards and best international practices.

Mr Macharia urged the committee to encourage use of new technologies and integrate mechanisms to facilitate smooth movement of aircraft, passengers and cargo in and out of the country.

“Keep departments, agencies and other concerned organisations informed of significant relevant facilitation developments in the field of civil aviation and seek their consideration or make recommendations to them regarding issues related to facilitation as appropriate,” Mr Macharia indicated.

The move comes as the national aviation regulator, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) also takes steps to make airline services friendly to disabled passengers.

The Civil Aviation (Consumer Protection) Regulation 2017 published by the KCAA –and which is presently undergoing public review— require all airlines operating in Kenya to pay special attention to disabled people.

The proposed law states that failure to provide disabled with assistive aids, wheelchairs and clear guidance signs at the airports will attract a penalty at the rate of 200 per cent of ticket price “in addition to any entitlements provided for under these regulations.”

Mr Macharia wants the team to ensure control of travel documents is done at the airports as per ICAO standards adding it should give recommendation on how to harmonise standards on documentation related to passengers, cargo and mail with those of neighbouring States.

The committee is expected to explore the possibility of converging control processes of border agencies to achieve “one stop” inspection.

It has also been asked to recommend amendments to relevant regulations to permit the use of selective inspections or other risk management techniques.

The CS also called for development of national policies with regard to provision of services to person with special needs.

Members of the committee are from Ministry responsible for Civil Aviation, Kenya Civil Aviation Authority, Secretariat to the National Civil Aviation Security Committee, Kenya Airports Authority, Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS), Department of Veterinary Services, Kenya Revenue Authority (Customs and Borders Control), Department of Immigration Services and Kenya Airports Police Unit, among others

Others are Ministry responsible for Foreign Affairs (Protocol Directorate), Ministry responsible for Public Health (Ports Health Services), Kenya Tourism Board, Ground Handling Agencies, Airline Operators, Formation Criminal Investigation Directorate and Frontier Control.