Just how did at least 21 packages of Jack Ma kits disappear?

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Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Kenya was one of the recipients of this donation which landed at JKIA on March 24. 

  • It was received and delivered to Kemsa on the same day.

By early March, the wave of philanthropy that was spreading fast across the world reached Africa.

As soon as Egypt and Algeria reported the first cases in Africa, panic gripped the continent as everyone rushed against time to secure PPEs to help fight the virus.

That is when Chinese billionaire Jack Ma touched the continent with his generosity, donating kits to the 54 African countries. These were quickly shipped to Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, from where they would be distributed.

Kenya was one of the recipients of this donation, which landed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) on March 24. It was received and delivered to Kemsa on the same day.

Of this first donation, Kenya was to receive 20,000 testing kits, 100,000 masks and 1,000 protective suits and face shields.

Several weeks later, the billionaire made a second donation. It was to follow the same route through Ethiopia, then to Nairobi. Now, tracing this donation from the airport to the Kemsa has probably become the most controversial part of the scandal.

During yesterday’s session in Parliament, it emerged that at least 21 packages from this donation disappeared between Ethiopia and Nairobi.

Transport Chief Administrative Secretary Chris Obure explained that when they went to clear the donation, they found 21 packages missing.

They were to collect 697 packages. But they fell short by 21.

They realised during clearance of the fourth consignment that had 697 packages of assorted medical supplies that, “21 packages were not delivered and we raised the issue with the Ministry of Health who said they will follow up the matter with the Ethiopian authorities,” Mr Obure said.

The CAS said the equipment did not vanish at JKIA, but blamed the Ethiopian Airline for not delivering the Kenyan consignment.

“We will continue to pursue the matter to ensure that they are dispatched to Kenya as intended. It’s difficult to know whether the consignment was re-packaged in Ethiopia or not,” Mr Obure said.

He exonerated the ministry from blame, saying, their mandate was only to clear the consignment from the airport and that the committee should follow up on the whereabouts of the missing donations with the ministries of Health and Foreign Affairs.

The donation was exclusively cleared by the Government Clearing Agency. KQ provided ground handling and storage services. They were received in three consignments. 

The second donation was received in two consignments, with one coming in on April 15, and the second on May 28. The third consignment was received on May 24. 

The clearing agency, which has since been moved from the Transport ministry to the Treasury, could not tell what was in the 21 packages that went missing.

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