Government spokesperson Isaac Mwaura, on Friday, apologised to passengers who were harassed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) by airport officials searching their items.
While addressing a forum at the Radisson Blu hotel in Nairobi, Mwaura noted that the Ksh75,000 (USD 500) threshold should be reviewed to alleviate the pressure given to travellers who visit the country.
The spokesperson pointed out that the limit should be raised to Ksh1.5 million, which he claimed is the global threshold.
“This 500 USD threshold is an East African Customs Regulations and I’ve engaged Mr Watanga of KRA and we’ve had conversations, that law is going to be reviewed because the standard is 10,000 USD,” he stated.
A photo of Government spokesperson Isaac Mwaura speaking during the 70-year anniversary of Sight Savers International (Kenya) on Thursday, May 11, 2023.
He added that such fears from the tourists would drive them away from the country and thus hurt the country’s position as a top destination list.
“I just came in this morning and didn’t see that traffic but of course, you will increasingly see us speaking from the same points of view because we must deliver as one,” he noted.
“For those who were harassed for this reason, we want to give our apologies because if you do so, you dissuade tourists from coming to Kenya.”
Several travellers have raised concerns over the harassment at the Customs section at JKIA over the new directive by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), which requires them to declare items above the Ksh75,000 limit.
The passengers claimed that the officials infringed on their Privacy by searching through their items to ascertain the goods.
Captain Fredrick Malu, a pilot at the national airline, highlighted the issue, questioning why customs officials ransacked his bags over a Ksh10,000 item – which did not meet the threshold.
Other travellers also cited their grievances, wondering why the new directive would be an excuse for some officials to harass them.
Following the uproar, Tourism CS Alfred Mutua toured JKIA and assured the public that necessary measures were enforced to restore order and sanity at the airport.
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport entry gate (JKIA) and confiscated items displayed on a table on Tuesday, November 7, 2022.