Kenya Airways protests detention of its staff in Kinshasa

Saturday April 27 2024
A Kenya Airways plane

Two employees of Kenya Airways (KQ) were arrested at N’Djili International Airport in Kinshasa. PHOTO | FILE | NMG


Two employees of Kenya Airways (KQ) were arrested at N’Djili International Airport in Kinshasa by officers from the military intelligence unit.

According to Allan Kilavuka, KQ CEO, the two employees were arrested, their phones seized and the company denied access to them.

On April 23, representatives of the Kenyan embassy and some KQ staff were allowed to visit them, but only for a few minutes”.

“The reason for their arrest was the absence of Customs documents relating to valuable cargo that was to be carried on a KQ flight on April 12, 2024. However, this cargo was not cleared or accepted by KQ due to incomplete documentation,” Kenya Airways said in a statement.

On April 24, KQ applied to the military court for the two individuals to be released unconditionally.

The court heard the case on April 25 and granted KQ’s application to release the two staff members and allow for due process to be followed.


However, despite the court orders, the military intelligence unit is reported to be still holding them incommunicado, even though they are civilians being held at a military intelligence facility.

According to KQ, the shipment was not on the air side for transport and therefore not in the possession of KQ as the logistics manager was still completing the documentation before handing it over to KQ. This cargo was still being cleared in the baggage section when the security team arrived and claimed that KQ was carrying non-cleared cargo.

In Kinshasa, the case came to light on April 16, when a journalist reportedly close to the intelligence spoke about it on a popular programme in Kinshasa.

The case is alleged to be about exporting money.

The journalist said about $8 million or more was seized at the airport when the cargo was about to be loaded on to a Kenya Airways plane.

According to a local newspaper, a commercial bank attempted to export the money “clandestinely, without the knowledge of the security services.”

No Congolese official has so far commented on the case, which is in the hands of the intelligence services.

But, according to one source, an investigation has been opened into the matter.

The bank that cited by local media in connection with the cargo issued a press statement refuting the allegations.

TMB Bank said that it was “an operation to export banknotes in foreign currencies which, moreover, is a common practice of commercial banks and therefore does not constitute an offence as insinuated by certain journalists who, unfortunately, and for reasons of their own, refrained from investigating the various departments involved in such an operation.”

“Our bank has complied with all the formalities required for this operation, which is not the first of its kind and is inherent to the operation of banks, particularly for notes that are unfit for circulation, either because of their condition or because of their series,” it said. “As the airway bill for this export operation expressly states, the recipient of these funds is the US Federal Reserve in New York.” wrote TMB.

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A week after their detention, the two Kenyans have still not been released.

For their country, Kenya, this is a violation of human rights, a contravention that “raises serious questions on the legality and justifiability for the incarceration of the two Kenyans by the DRC Military”.

The National Assembly Defence, Intelligence and Foreign Relations committee chairperson Nelson Koech (Belgut) has also waded on the matter.

“This is a serious infringement of the rights of the two Kenyans and a worrying breach of the diplomatic principles upon which the Kenya-DRC relations are founded,” he faulted.

“Indeed, DRC has been one of the region’s top beneficiaries of the Kenyan spirit of hospitality with Congolese citizens freely living in and earning their livelihoods in Kenya without any harassment by our authorities”, he adds.

The East African Community (EAC) Secretariat has appointed German firm GOPA Infra Gmbh together with Kenya’s ITEC Ltd to carry out a feasibility study for the rehabilitation a regional expressway connecting Kenya and Uganda.

The feasibility study was approved by the financier, the African development Bank (AfDB), in December 2021 and will determine the economic viability of upgrading the existing multinational road sections from single carriageway to expressway standards.

It will also determine the economic feasibility of developing the corridors that connect Kenya and Uganda to the port of Mombasa.

The EAC said in a statement this week that the feasibility study for the 256km multinational Kisumu-Kisian-Busia/Kakira-Malaba-Busitema-Busia expressway is expected to start soon after the Secretariat officially handed over the site to GOPA Infra Gmbh and ITEC Ltd.

The EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Infrastructure, Productive, Social and Political Sectors, Aguer Ariik Malueth, says the upgrade of these roads is expected to improve the transport services to five land-linked EAC partners, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“It is our expectation that the Partner States are also in the process of upgrading the other sections of the Northern Corridor from Mombasa through Nairobi up to Malaba and from Kampala westwards towards Katuna and Mpondwe so as to achieve a uniform high level of service along the entire corridor,” he said.

The roads form part of the Mombasa–Nairobi– Kampala-Kigali Expressway, which was given high priority at the 4th EAC Heads of States Retreat on Infrastructure Development held in February 2018 in Kampala, as crucial links in promoting regional integration and easing of access to the sea for landlocked countries.

The rehabilitation along the EAC Northern Corridor is expected to contribute to strengthening road infrastructure within the EAC region to fast-track regional integration and spur cross-border trade.

The estimated duration of the project is 24 months.

Kenya and Uganda with the support of the EAC, are keen to improve the transport infrastructure with a view to supporting economic development programmes within the two partner states, deepen economic co-operation and foster regional integration within the EAC.

Accordingly, the EAC Secretariat requested in February 2021 for financing by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility (IPPF) — NEPAD IPPF — Special Fund to carry out feasibility studies for the section of the Northern Corridor from Kisumu to Busia in Kenya and the Kakira to Malaba road, including the Busitema–Busia link in Uganda.

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The total cost of the feasibility studies is estimated at $1.49 million of which $1.39 million is a grant from the NEPAD-IPPF while the counterpart contribution of $ 100,000 (06.7 percent) will be provided by the EAC Secretariat.

The IPPF grant will finance the main consultancy services to produce the Economic feasibility study report and the financing strategies report while the counterpart contribution will finance project management and supervision costs.

The project fits within a regional programme in the East Africa region, has been prioritised by the respective Partner States and contributes to the delivery of economic infrastructure necessary for achieving tangible development outcomes for the region.

The EAC formally submitted a request to NEPAD-IPPF in February 2021 for the financing of the consultancy services for carrying out the feasibility studies of the Multinational Kenya/Tanzania: Kisumu – Kisian – Busia (104 km) / Kakira – Malaba (127 km) & Busitema – Busia (20km) Expressway roads.

The NEPAD-IPPF approved the inclusion of the project in its 2021 work plan on August 4, 2021 and requested the EAC to proceed with the formal application for funding.