Marsabit County Commissioner Gilbert Kitiyo has defended immigration officers at the Kenya-Ethiopia border point in Moyale over allegations of illegal issuance of travel documents to foreigners.
Mr Kitiyo instead attributed the illegal possession of passports by foreigners from Ethiopia and Eritrea to a growing syndicate that forges travel documents.
He said that racketeers are taking advantage the cordial relations enjoyed by the two nations as a result of the Kenya-Ethiopia treaty signed by Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and Emperor Haile Selassie allowing their citizens to acquire visas at the border entry points.
The administrator called on the officers to rigorously vet any foreigner who is coming into the country.
“It is not true that the immigration officers are conniving with the foreigners to aid them in acquiring travel documents,” Mr Kitiyo said.
The county commissioner confirmed that there has been an influx of foreigners and human trafficking over the last few months following a move by the Eritrean government to grant its citizens free movement to Ethiopia.
This followed the September 16, 2018, treaty entered between the Ethiopia and Eritrean governments.
Mr Kitiyo said that police are on high alert and are making sure that the situation is contained.
He also called on police officers manning roadblocks to vet every vehicle regardless of the travellers’ status in the society.
The directive comes even as the Moyale business community lamented that the high number of roadblocks on the Isiolo-Moyale highway is slowing down trade.
Moyale Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Ali Nur Muumin said that the road blocks are dehumanising and are also interfering with businesses.
“The journey from Moyale to Nairobi should be a 10-hour drive but due to many roadblocks where motorists are checked, the journey eventually lasts for even 20 hours,” he said.
FORGERY CLAIM DENIED
He faulted the county commissioner’s argument that the fake travel documents are being issued by a forgery syndicate.
“There is only one entry and exit at the border point where the document issuance is done thus making it difficult for brokers to get a room for forgery. The screening process is biometric. How then can anyone forge documents?” Mr Muumin wondered.
He also called on the security officers to go easy on the travellers who are subjected to strenuous roadblock vetting.