By STEPHANIE WANGARI | Daily Nation
On Friday, April 10, a section of Kenyans were angered after a video emerged showing their counterparts in China were spending nights on the streets. Kenyans took to social media to heavily criticize the government for inaction as fellow citizens were being mistreated in the Asian nation.
Their pleas were finally heard and the government began an evacuation process that also involved citizens stranded in China and the United Kingdom. During a press briefing from Afya House on Tuesday, May 12, Foreign Affairs PS Kamau Macharia disclosed that the plane carrying the evacuated citizens was not full as the majority of the about 3,000 Kenyans in China did not see the need to return home.
A month later, on Sunday, May 10, 169 Kenyans who were stranded in China landed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport from Guangzhou.
Most expressed their joy on landing at the airport after staying under lockdown in China for approximately four to five months.
“I cannot go back, I just want to be home,” one of the Kenyans who was stranded in the country stated on arrival.
He argued that despite the pandemic, most of Kenyans in China and other countries that evacuations were ongoing had already made a life for themselves there did not express any intention of returning.
“This shows you that even if people recognise that there is a danger where they are, they still recognise the inevitability of moving from where they are because life must move on.
“Most of them have lives to live, livelihoods to pursue, education to complete and so they prefer to remain where they are,” he stated.
This is despite Kenyans abroad, prior to the evacuation pleading with the government to waive the airfare to enable them to return home after losing income following the pandemic.
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“I want to come home. I have signed up to be evacuated, but I cannot afford the plane ticket,” Bernard Mwangi, a Kenyan who travelled to Beijing for business, but was living at the mercy of wellwishers to the Daily Nation on April 21.
In addition to these challenges, evacuated Kenyans had also been informed that they would have to foot the 14-day mandatory quarantine costs on arrival.
Speaking to Kenyans.co.ke, a Kenyan in China who sought anonymity, stated that some citizens stranded in the country did not manage to return back home due to the cost of air tickets.
Our source added that some of the individuals did not want to come back home and start over.
“It is better to suffer and make money than suffer with a government of the rich. The ticket was then double price meaning the government didn’t care about us,” the source stated.
Macharia revealed that about 700 individuals had been evacuated as of May 12, adding that more Kenyans would be expected back in the country in the following weeks.
Meanwhile, talks are underway to discuss the imminent resumption of passenger operations.
In a letter signed by Abel Gogo, the airport manager, and addressed to all government agencies, all concessionaires and all contractors, the parties were invited to a virtual meeting meant to be held on Wednesday, May 13, to discuss the operational readiness and resumption of activities.
Read from source Daily Nation