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Mystery surrounds expulsion of Gikomba Chinese traders

Saturday June 22 2019

CHINA

This image taken on May 31, 2019 shows one of the Chinese traders who was selling bales of clothes at Gikomba market in Nairobi. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

EDWIN OKOTH
By EDWIN OKOTH
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Mystery continues to surround the alleged deportation of seven Chinese traders who had been operating at the Gikomba market in Nairobi.

Over a week after Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i announced the deportation of the traders found to be operating illegally in the country, it remains unclear whether they had left the country or not, with the ministry and the Chinese Embassy giving conflicting answers.

FOREIGN TRADERS

Chief of Information and Public Affairs Section First Secretary Xueqing Huang said the embassy was only informed about investigations the Kenya government was conducting on Chinese foreign traders suspected to be in the country illegally.

“The Kenyan side briefed the Embassy about their investigation work on foreign traders on June 17. We understand and respect Kenyan government’s legitimate actions,” Ms Huang said, adding that any information on the deportations should be verified from the Kenyan authorities.

The Interior ministry had earlier stated that the seven Chinese nationals were arrested and three found to have no valid work permits while the other four had been engaging in unauthorised employment and other income-generating activities under their respective work permit classes.

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According to the embassy officials, their visits to Gikomba market had only revealed that there were 'just 2 to 3 Chinese nationals' operating there and who had the requisite documentation to conduct business in the country.

LEGAL

Ms Huang reiterated that there were many Kenyans living and working in China’s Yi Wu and Guangzhou, who had no problems there as long as they remained legal.

Multiple sources at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) raised doubts that the deportations happened.

Dr Matiang’i did not respond to queries over the deportation, while his Immigration PS Gordon Kihalangwa referred us to the Director of Immigration Alexander Muteshi. Mr Muteshi said the minister had satisfactorily talked about the issue.

Meanwhile, a spot check in Nakuru town revealed that several Chinese nationals were still selling second-hand clothes, utensils, toys, cheap Chinese electronic and kitchenware imports among other household items. One of the traders said he was in the country legally as he had all the necessary documents.

Additional reporting by Eric Matara