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KCAA says drone regulations will be released soon

Drones are used for various reasons like in news gathering, film making, animal tracking, spraying in agriculture, research, relief purposes among others. Photo/COURTESY: CHAMS Media.

NAIROBI, Kenya Nov 15 – Regulation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, is still in limbo, five months after the National Assembly rejected the regulations that had been proposed by the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA).

The authority’s Director General, Captain Gilbert Kibe, says revised regulations will be released in the near future with improvements as recommended by the committee on Delegated Legislation.

“It is my desire that the new regulations are published before the end of the year,” he said.

Drones are used for various reasons like in news gathering, film making, animal tracking, spraying in agriculture, research, relief purposes among others.

Captain Kibe says there will be a massive regulation of all drone operators when the regulations come into force and this will be a joint effort between KCAA and military forces.

“We want to know every single drone operator who is operating in this country,” he says. “We want to create a database. We want to see how many drones are here and we want to see what is it they are doing.”

He further explains that before one imports a drone they will have to seek approval from KCAA.

“We are going to undertake what we call UTM- Unmanned Aircraft System traffic management. Before you fly the drone you are going to need permission from us depending on the category of the drone that you are operating. The category I am talking about is the commercial, the media for instance and film making,” he says.

He emphasized that the operator will have to inform the authority the location where the drone will be flown and should one end up flying in a different location, the system will flag the drone and action taken against the operator.

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The national assembly annulled the KCAA regulations in June this year after finding fault with several provisions and inconsistencies in application of fines.

“The Penalty imposed by regulation 56 of Sh5 million or six-month imprisonment, or both, contravenes Section 82 (4) of the Civil Aviation Act, which allows for the imposition of a fine not exceeding Sh2 million or three years imprisonment,” the committee’s chair Gladys Shollei said in a report tabled in Parliament.

The other shortcoming reported by the committee is lack of public participation in the drafting of the regulations, contrary to the constitution of Kenya. Captain Kibe says this time around there will be adequate public participation.

KCAA insists that regulation of drones in Kenya is long overdue because of safety and security concerns.

But the authority will have to address the concern raised by the committee which felt that 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.

[By Alex Chamwada, Chams Media]

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