Monday, January 5, 2015

Travellers have been frustrated by Kenya’s barring of Tanzania-registered motor vehicles from entering the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) to drop and pick transit passengers to and from this country.
 
The drivers in their hundreds both from private and public vehicles, said the order was issued on December 22.
 
Since then, they further said, it has caused fear and uncertainty among tourists traveling to Tanzania via the JKIA.
 
Speaking to The Guardian near the entrance gate to the JKIA, drivers from various tourist companies said the action has embarrassed their guests most of whom belonged to different nationalities.
 
Ruben Kiondo, a driver working with Rainbow Shuttle Company, said he was surprised by the directive. He further said that it had been in place for a week now and annoyed Tanzania travelers, but the Tanzania government has been quiet about it.
 
“We demand an explanation from our government; it should tell us about the whole fracas which threatens our economy. The government should come out and tell us what is going on here,” he said.
 
He noted that most tourists affected were worried about their security on exchanging from shuttle mini-buses to taxis at night. They were also not sure of the reliability of motor vehicles which might make them miss their flights that are strict on time, they said.
 
 "We have been harassed very much by security officials at the JKIA as they ask where our clients come from. When they say they hail from Tanzania they are harassed and asked why they  did not fly through the Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA),” Kiondo lamented.
 
Another driver, Assey   Faustin, noted that there were times when security officials warned them that their vehicles would be stopped from entering Kenya.
 
“It’s very frustrating to hear these threats while Kenyan vehicles go everywhere in Tanzania as they move from airports to  small towns. Kenyans enjoy and do business without any problem,” he asserted.
 
A businessman from Arusha, Patel Bhatia, who also arrived at the JKIA entrance gate on Friday to collect his guests from London, some of who were his relatives, said he was shocked to be barred from picking them.
 
"This act is barbaric, happening in a country which is  civilized. My guests arrived by a Kenya Airways  flight, but  they stopped me  from picking them. I don’t understand this,” Bhatia said.
 
Speaking about the issue, the Director of River Side Shuttle, Moses Kingori, said the action affected his business beyond expectations. His clients from Europe and America cancelled their safaris because of the uncertainty of travelling through Kenya, he explained.
 
Commenting on the matter, the Tanzania minister for East Africa Community Affairs, Samwel Sitta, blamed the act saying it was unfriendly and jeopardized the East African integration.
 
Said he: “I cannot directly blame the government of Kenya. I personally understand President Kenyatta’s spirit towards the EA integration, but actions at the lower level undermine it. We are seeking for urgent and meaningful interventions against these unfriendly actions.”
 

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