, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 13 – A Parliamentary committee has taken issue with the manner in which billionaire businessman Kamlesh Pattni was evicted from his Duty Free shops at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), arguing that it was a major security lapse.
Members of the Parliamentary Committee on Transport, Public Works and Housing argued that the night eviction jeopardised security at the international airport by allowing hired youths access to restricted zones.
The legislators demanded to know who cleared the workers to the security tight areas and what procedures were followed in doing so.
Runyenjes MP Cecil Mbarire revealed to her committee members that about 350 men were used in the evictions and it was not clear how and why they were selected and allowed access.
“About 350 young men were taken to the airport in the middle of the night so I would like the chief of security to come clear again on that matter. Were they 350 and who were they?” she asked.
“Because we hear some 350 strangers stormed an airport and it is important for us to know the truth.”
JKIA’s Security Chief Eric Kiraithe confirmed that 350 casual airport workers were used in the operation maintaining that there was no security breach.
He argued that in every team of 10 there was one security officer to oversee the process and ensure it was smooth.
Kiraithe insisted that he had no doubt that security was tight.
“We used about 350 casuals and for every 10 workers there was a supervisor who is a security officer. We had 20 police officers led by an inspector of police and during the exercise I walked round twice to confirm that the supervisors were there,” he said.
Kiraithe added that there were also electrical experts to make sure that no cables were left hanging after the evictions.
He gave this assurance after Embakasi South MP Irshad Sumra claimed that during the evictions some cables could have been left loose leading to the JKIA fire.
“There was a qualified civil engineer who is the airport’s engineer and we made sure that where there was need to disconnect electricity, electricians were deployed and they even went back to counter check this,” explained Kiraithe.
He also told the committee members how difficult it was to select workers who would assist in the evictions after droves of casuals declared interest.
“Not everybody at the airport works in suits and ties and when we sent word that we would need labour for the night there was a struggle trying to shortlist those who would help us,” he said.
About 650 Kenyans were affected by the evictions and the government has already indicated that it will not compensate them because it had signed the lease agreement with Diplomatic Duty Free and World Duty Free companies but not with individuals.