Corrupt Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) officials at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) are allegedly selling drones confiscated from travellers at the airport.
According to a senior military officer who bought a drone in August 2017 in Dubai and another senior government official who imported a different one in February 2018, the officials are selling drones and leaving empty boxes at the airport.
The senior government official who is attached to State House reportedly imported a drone which was confiscated at the airport while he was getting into the country. The customs staff who took his drone didn’t realise that he was attached to State House and he didn’t try to argue his way out and use his influence but thought of following the process.
According to the State House official, he was told to leave his drone at the airport and obtain a license at aviation regulator Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) offices. He was later told to pay some fees which he did and join a club. He followed all listed steps but whenever he went back to JKIA’s KAA offices to get his drone, he was told that he had extra steps to follow.
He followed the extra steps more than 5 times until he realised that he was being taken round and he might not find an end to the same. So he sought the help of KCAA Director General Gilbert Kibe and KRA boss Njiraini to release his drone. KRA told him that the drones were being confiscated on behalf of KCAA and so the taxman was not the best contact over the issue. When he went to KCAA boss Gilbert Kibe, he was told that the matter would be looked into but later told that the drone could not be traced as it has reportedly been misplaced.
At some point during the ping-pong, the State House official decided to take back his drone when he was going out of the country and donate it to his relative who is living in Dubai. Realising that they could not produce the drone, the officials at KAA offices told him that he could only be given the drone to take back to Dubai if he was a UAE citizen.
Two other drone users have since followed up the drone matter and realised that most of the drones which were confiscated at the airport have been sold and what is lying in the stores are just empty boxes.
With the total ban on recreational drones in the country, illegal flying is now common unlike before when the drone enthusiasts would meet and fly as a group and self-regulate. Owning a drone is now more complicated than owning a gun in the country.
Despite forming the Above Kenya drone owners group, KCAA has refused to engage the group in making it easy to fly drones in the country.
While making it hard for individuals to import mostly the easily recognisable DJI drones, KCAA doesn’t recognise the many drones in toy shops in the country as well as the others from different manufacturers.
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