Africa: Kenya Civil Aviation reacts to the death of Controller who jumped from Moi Airport Tower
The Kenyan Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) has reacted to the death of a controller who jumped from the control tower of the Moi International Airport, Mombasa, describing the incident as unfortunate.
In a press statement signed by the Director General, of KCAA, Capt. Gilbert M. Kibe, he said the families of the deceased has been informed adding that pertinent officers of the agency are working closely with relevant authorities to investigate the incident.
He stated that staff on duty and those affected will undergo counselling sessions to cope with the loss and grief.
“The board and management stands with all the Air Traffic Control Officers during this time, having lost a valuable member of the team.
“Our thoughts go out to the family and friends at this difficult time. We extend our deepest sympathies and keep them in our prayers.”
According to the-star.co.ke, the deceased, Vincent Koech, who jumped 86 metres from a control tower to his death had argued bitterly with his supervisor, a source yesterday told the Star.
Detectives said bad blood and discipline issues might have triggered the suicide.
He had a dispute with his supervisor, Boniface Mungai, before he took his life, a traffic department source said in confidence yesterday.
When contacted on Friday night, Mungai said, “I can’t talk to you, talk to our bosses,” before disconnecting the call. Chief Air Navigation Service officer Martha Lipuka neither picked calls nor replied to an SMS.
Koech, 29, left what appeared to be a suicide note on [top of] the operational logbook – a document used to hand over and take over watches.
On Friday, Koech who had come from a night shift, left without filling out the book.
“It was not his fault because the book had not been provided. The available was full,” the source said.
Mungai texted and called Koech back, a second source, a police officer, aware of the probe said. Koech initially declined to return.
“It was around 10.30am when Koech came back. He said … the book was not available and his time was up. He said he had handed over the watch and could not have remained behind,” the officer said.
Koech complained he was the only staff who was being subjected to numerous disciplinary actions on flimsy grounds.
“He complained he was denied permission to attend a friend’s wedding on March 16 this year,” the policeman said.
The two had quarrelled bitterly, the officer said.
Koech filled the logbook and went ahead to detail his frustrations.
The book, now at the centre of the probe, has been taken by the Director of Criminal Investigations.
A colleague of Koech said he had been agitated and called his father, Sigira.
Koech spoke to him while on the balcony of the tower which is soundproof. No staff heard what they discussed, a third source who works at the tower said.
But the father said, “He was very quick. We discussed family matters. He did not talk about anything he was undergoing.”
The call lasted less than five minutes and Koech was still visibly angry, the colleague said.
“It was after the call that he jumped through the window of the control tower. The content of the call can only be availed by the mobile service provider,” the officer said.
On Saturday morning, KCAA Director General Gilbert Kibe in a statement said Koech died in “unclear circumstances”. “The board and management stand with air control officers during this time, having lost a valuable member of the team,” he said.
Kibe in another internal (staff) statement seen by the Star, said, “Our pertinent officers are working closely with relevant authorities to investigate the incident.”
Those present when the incident occurred since recorded statements with the DCI.
Airport police boss Joseph Tanui said they are investigating what transpired when Koech returned to the control tower.
Koech was in his second year of service since being posted to Mombasa. He had been seconded from the Air Navigation Service.
He did his job training in Mombasa after coming from Nairobi.
Koech was a trainee of the East Africa School of Aviation for one year.