When the story broke out two weeks ago that some 400 Chinese nationals were preparing to leave the country over fears of Covid-19, if President Uhuru Kenyatta opened up the country on 6th June, 2020, most of us thought it was a joke. The Irony of the Chinese fleeing Kenya to China to escape Corona aside, imagine the audacity! They supposedly obtained a decree from the High Court yesterday, 16th June, 2020 ordering that the government of Kenya conditionally opens its airspace to allow them travel to China. It is very doubtful that the executive arm of government that is already engaged in a power tussle with the it’s judicial arm over appointment of the nominated 41 judges to the High Court and Judicial Service Commission will relax it’s grip and open enforce the High Court directive. Justice James Makau had sometime in February ordered the government to suspend all the flights from china and pursue, round up and lock up all the passengers at a military or health facility.
Their argument which surprisingly persuaded the High Court was that the Kenyan government had demonstrated inability to curb and manage the Covid-19 virus and they are at risk. I wonder where that lives ordinary Kenyans who cannot travel out of the country to seek medical reprieve on account on the very ban that they sought to have lifted on travel. Justice Weldon Lorie of the High Court of Kenya agreed with them and reiterated that due to the government laxity in the control of the pandemic justified allowing non Kenyan Citizens to be evacuated and to be taken to their respective countries where they are domiciled. The justice said nothing of the Kenyans stuck outside of Kenya and who have been unable to travel back into the country. In particular, Kenyans have expressed discomfort in the government of Kenya’s reluctance to evacuate kenyan citizens stuck in South Sudan and the students also stuck in China for the Same reasons.
Because of the prevailing daunting financial circumstances, most Kenyans resident in foreign countries have been unable to make ends meet and have been dying to come home. Of particular interest was the courts finding that Kenya’s health system cannot handle huge infection numbers in the event that the pandemic spreads rapidly in the country, an unfortunate eventuality that is more likely than not. The four hundred plus Chinese nationals were represented by renown city lawyer Mr. Isaac Okinyo who was not available for comments on the same. The ball is now said to be in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the office of the Attorney General. Whether or not the travel shall be approved is a matter of national security considering the risks of reinfection with mutated virus or worse, new strains of the virus being reintroduced into the Kenyan population upon return of the flight.
Mr Isaac Okinyo, their lawyer, told the Nation that everything is now in place and that his clients are only awaiting approval to travel from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
At the very worst, the Attorney General, Mr. Paul Kihara expected that the order will also compell the Chinese government to fly in Kenyans stuck in China while on its way to collect it’s stranded kin. The onus has instead been placed on the Kenyan Government, specifically the office of the Attorney General and and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They say they have a better chance of treatment in China, as Kenya does not have enough health facilities and equipment to manage coronavirus patients. The group, mainly living in Nairobi, is expected to be led by the Chinese ambassador to Kenya Wu Peng, who has been recalled to Beijing.
Lest we forget, China was the ground zero of the novel coronavirus after it alerted the World Health Organization (WHO) on December 31 2019, about several cases of unusual pneumonia in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people.
Conspiracy theorists now claim that it was perhaps a devious plan by the Chinese government to deliver the virus to the rest of the world then recall it’s citizens. They are also said to have the cure and are witholding it to make a killing in the sales. The secrecy with which the Chinese government has handled information relating the circumstances of the pandemic have only raised more eyebrows. It is uncertain whether the government will honour the court directive and we can only wait for the events that unfold.