alexa Planes delay landing as military steps up drills for new law fete - Daily Nation

Planes delay landing as military steps up drills for new law fete

Sunday August 22 2010

Kenya's armed forces rehearse for the ceremony of the promulgation of the new constitution to be held at Uhuru Park in Nairobi, on August 27th, 2010. PHOTO/STEPHEN MUDIARI

Kenya's armed forces rehearse for the ceremony of the promulgation of the new constitution to be held at Uhuru Park in Nairobi, on August 27th, 2010. PHOTO/STEPHEN MUDIARI 

By PATRICK MAYOYO and FRED MUKINDA

Seven passenger aeroplanes were on Sunday forced to delay landing in Nairobi for up to an hour as military aircrafts rehearsed for Friday's promulgation of the new constitution.

According to a notice issued by Kenya's aviation authorities, the airspace over the capital was to be closed for one hour to create room for the military drill.

“At the end of the military practice, the airspace remained closed for a further 20 minutes. As they were waiting, two aircraft declared a low fuel emergency but were still not allowed to land. Three civilian aircraft had near crash with military aircraft – one Puma helicopter and one F5 fighter jet,” an official disclosed on condition that he is not named.

However, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) dismissed the reports of near misses.

The office of KCCA director-general Hillary Kioko said: “We are not aware of that and probably you (the Daily Nation) received a false alert,” he added.

The military rehearsals will take place again this week.

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Military spokesman Bogita Ongeri said KCCA granted the airspace over the capital exclusively to military planes in line with laid-down procedures.

“We made the request for safety purposes. It’s meant for the safety of airmen. We do it even when preparing for national holidays,” he said. Mr. Ongeri confirmed the rehearsals took place between 10.30am and 11.30am.

Preparations for the proclamation of the new constitution on Friday have been on top gear despite a case filed last week to stop the ceremony.

The Kenyan government on Sunday released details of traffic diversions within Nairobi's central business district for the August 27 ceremony.

An elite team from the paramilitary General Service Unit, specialised in VIP security, has also been put on stand-by in readiness for the arrival of invited dignitaries who will grace the occasion. The elite teams are drawn from L and G company.

The Kenyan government has booked a yet to be known number of hotel rooms amongst Nairobi's leading hotels to accommodate the dignitaries who will be flying in for the event, dubbed locally as the birth of the second republic.

Most of the dignitaries are expected to start arriving starting Wednesday.