The Asians who have been landing in Nairobi in droves are international tourists, Government Spokesman Cyrus Oguna has said.
Col (Rtd) Oguna in an interview said the foreigners, who have been arriving in large groups, have valid papers to be in the country on holiday.
“They are tourists in the country legally and some prefer travelling and staying as families,” Col (Rtd) Oguna told Nation on Monday.
The “tourists”, who started landing at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport several weeks ago, have raised eyebrows among Kenyans, with many questioning their mission.
Some of them, who are said to be casual labourers on transit to a third country, were left stranded in the capital and Machakos County after being hit by the shock of high hotel bills.
Social media platforms have in recent days been abuzz with viral videos showing the visitors arriving at the airport.
The foreigners have been booked in public and private facilities in various parts of the Nairobi and Machakos counties— from Nyayo Estate to Syokimau, Athi River, Kitengela, Kahawa West, all the way to Kenyatta Road and Magadi Road.
Sources told Nation the visitors, suspected to be on transit to Saudi Arabia, are in quarantine before proceeding to the kingdom, which has put several Asian countries on its Red List.
But while Col (Rtd) Oguna admitted the foreigners were in quarantine “in compliance with Health ministry guidelines”, he denied they were on transit.
All travellers from, or transiting through Pakistan, Indonesia, Brazil, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, India, Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Vietnam are not allowed entry into Saudi Arabia.
People from other countries who have transited through any of the Red List countries in the past 14 days preceding their entry into Riyadh are also barred.
Since the first of many subsequent flights that landed in Nairobi almost a month ago, a source at Immigration told the Nation, officials have seen an influx of Asians— majority of them men.
Once they land, they are picked up and shuttled by City Hoppa and City Shuttle buses to different destinations.
A week ago, more than 100 of them were shuttled to Syokimau, where they sought affordable Airbnbs, after spending a fortune paying expensive bills at city hotels for weeks.
Residents at Greatwall Gardens, one of the facilities hosting them in Syokimau, yesterday told Nation the foreigners arrived there thinking they were being booked in a hotel.
They had documents stamped ‘Greatwall Hotel’.
Asked about the “tourists” roaming in estates, Col (Rtd) Oguna said “going forward”, all the visitors will be required to quarantine in hotels and other designated facilities.
A notice by Saudi Arabia says travel to Saudi Arabia remains subject to a variety of limitations and travel and health protocols.
Employers who wish to send workers to Saudi Arabia have to discuss their plans with global consulting firm, Deloitte.
“The response to the Covid-19 pandemic continues to develop, and Deloitte will provide additional updates as information becomes available. Please check Deloitte’s Covid-19 Digital Map for information on travel restrictions and immigration changes in other countries,” the notice reads.
Saudi Arabia relaxed its travel restrictions on August 24 for fully vaccinated expats, allowing them to directly enter the kingdom from countries facing travel bans.
The decision will be applicable only to those foreigners who have a valid residency permit (iqama) and who left the kingdom on exit and re-entry visa after taking two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.