By Ebi Kesiena
Kenya’s diaspora community has voiced discontent regarding their treatment at the country’s airports, particularly the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA). Allegations include harassment, excessive taxation, invasion of privacy, and disparate treatment compared to white passengers.
Mwaura Mwembu, Chairman of a 21-member committee representing over 1200 diaspora voices from the West Coast in the USA, emphasized the diaspora’s crucial role as a primary economic contributor to the country’s growth.
He called for respectful treatment, stating, “We are the Holstein cow that gives 34 liters of milk a day to Kenya, and our request is only to be handled with care.”
Addressing a press conference, Mwembu highlighted the diaspora’s willingness to pay legitimate taxes but opposed the practice of double taxation, especially on personal or household items worth $500 or more. The discontent also extended to the Kenya Revenue Authority’s directive, causing dissatisfaction among tourists and local travelers alike.
Although in November last year, Roads and Transport CS Kipchumba Murkomen convened a multi-agency meeting at JKIA aimed to improve service delivery and resulted in an agreement to establish an airport charter, involving immigration, police, port health, Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS), and KAA.
The charter, set to be signed by the end of the month, aims to ensure passengers are treated with dignity, and their belongings are handled with care.
Murkomen assured that visitors at JKIA would not be required to alight from vehicles during the initial screening, addressing a major concern raised on social media platforms regarding long queues and delays. Additionally, Tourism and Wildlife CS Alfred Mutua, accompanied by top KRA officials, including Commissioner General Humphrey Wattanga, assured visitors in a media tour that they would not face harassment, and bags would only be opened if necessary.