On Wednesday, Kenyan aviation authorities banned unaccompanied luggage on aircraft from Somalia, and insisted that all planes should land at Wajir Airport for security checks before proceeding to Narobi.
In a letter drafted by Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and sent to Somali Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kenya argued that serious “security considerations” had influenced the country’s decision to reverse the directive on direct flights between the two cities because Mogadishu had flouted air safety standards on travellers.
Kenya went ahead and said that any unaccompanied bags will be destroyed and airlines found carrying them be punished.
“It has come to the notice of the relevant authorities of Kenya that passengers are allowed to travel from Mogadishu without proper documentation and visas. The ministry therefore requests that documents verification be enhanced at the port of departure,” the letter seen by Business Daily said.
On May 10 Kenya reintroduce security checks at Wajir Airport, two years after they were lifted, arguing that Somalia had done little to ensure the safety of passengers travellers into Nairobi.
Despite Mogadishu’s protests, Kenyan officials continue to insist Somalia’s immigration checks are weak and some passengers have been let to load luggage while they remain behind.
The latest development comes just days after Kenya blocked the entry of three senior government officials who were heading to Nairobi for the launch of an European Union-sponsored programme on cross-border conflict management because they didn’t have Visa yet they had diplomatic passports.
In a fit of anger, Somalia later announced it would boycott future regional meetings in Nairobi, although there are media reports that subsequent different delegations from Somalia have since come to Nairobi to attend other meetings, after obtaining visas in Mogadishu.
In what could be seen as Kenya’s determination to push the tiff into the global arena, Nairobi also wrote to 144 diplomatic missions in Kenya rejecting Mogadishu’s move to ban its officials from attending regional meetings in city owing to the travel hitches.
“Somali government officials are always welcome subject to entry requirements as applicable to all foreign nationals,” said Kenyan officials.
Kenya and Somalia are currently locked in a bitter maritime border dispute that has simmered over time and culminated with Somalia filing of a suit at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, in 2014. Before then, bilateral negotiations had dragged on for six years without much success.
According to Somalia’s side of the story, Kenya has encroached on its 100,000-square-kilometre marine territory with potential oil and gas deposits in the Indian Ocean. Somalia says the boundary extends to the southeast as an extension of the land border.
The conflict recently played out in the public after Kenya recalled its ambassador to Mogadishu, Lucas Tumbo, and ordered Somalia’s envoy in Nairobi, Mohammed Muhamud, to leave, after Somalia allegedly auctioned off oil and gas reserves in disputed maritime territories.