Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Wetangula was not drunk during quarrel with KQ staff-Senators

Cord co-principal Moses Wetang’ula yesterday asserted Kenyan travel authorities are plotting to “embarrass and humiliate” opposition leaders.

Addressing a press conference in Mombasa, Wetang’ula did not respond when asked if he was drunk during a quarrel with Kenya Airways staff over his lack of identification for security purposes.

His Senate colleagues said, however, the suggestion of intoxication was not true.  “We were all there and let there be no claims of any wrongdoing on the part of Wetang’ula.

There was nothing to do with arrogance. He did not force himself into the plane,” Nyeri Senator   Mutahi Kagwe said.  “This discourteous behavior of KQ staff must stop. KQ is a public entity and must be bound by corporate governance principles.

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There is a way they could have politely dealt with the matter,”  Mandera Senator Billow Kerrow told reporters.  In the end, Wetang’ula boarded the flight Thursday night.  The case generated considerable discussion and not everyone agreed with Wetang’ula.

Nominated senator Martha Wangari yesterday posted on Facebook that she faced a similar situation, lack of ID, but she was allowed to board because she was polite.

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“This morning I was almost having a Weta Kenya Airways situation. I forgot my ID (I never do that). I was however nice to the ladies serving me and they allowed me to board.

“My take on the whole saga with Weta is simple —  just be nice! You dont have to shout or quarrel, expecting they know you … Be humble and explain if you forgot.”

At the press Mombasa press conference, Senate Minority leader Wetang’ula pointed out that two months ago, Cord leader Raila Odinga was denied access to the VIP section at the Wilson Airport when he was heading to Taita Taveta county.

“I believe this is a plot by travel authorities to embarrass and humiliate leaders, especially those in opposition, and subject them to unnecessary psychological and emotional torture in public,” he said.

Referring to the Raila airport episode, he said:  “Together with Senators Johnstone Muthama and I and other leaders, he watched as the airport staff locked up the door to the lounge and kept the key,” Wetang’ula said.

Late Thursday, Wetang’ula is said to have scuffled with Kenya Airways staff after he was asked to produce identification documents for security purposes.

He was traveling to Mombasa for a senate function with other senators.  At the press conference yesterday at the Serena Hotel, Wetang’ula accused airline staff of arrogance and demanded the management apologise.  “I am distressed because this situation undermines my standing and dignity as a leader in this country.

I will write to the management of KQ for an apology. If they don’t apologise, I retain the right to sue,” he said.  He threatened to reassess his continuing relationship with the airline, which he said he had helped to open new routes during his tenure at the Foreign ministry.

Wetang’ula further accused KQ management of “profiling elected leaders for humiliation” and said at least three similar cases involved other leaders. He did not elaborate.  KQ yesterday defended its decision to demand identification from the Bungoma senator before allowing him to depart.

Through the COO and CEO-designate Mbuvi Ngunze, the national carrier said all passengers must produce identification cards as required by the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority.  “Kenya Airways wishes to clarify that as per its security programme approved by the KCAA, all passengers must show a form of photo ID prior to boarding an aircraft, either during check-in or boarding.

These requirements are posted at all passenger-accessible areas at all airports,” Ngunze said.  Due to high insecurity, his staff had to implement the directives, he said.

“Kenya Airways operate in a highly regulated industry and in the context of the prevailing security environment, these measures become imperative,” he said.

According to eyewitness accounts, Wetang’ula arrived at the airport alongside Speaker Ekwee Ethuro, checked in and was issued a boarding pass.

But before the aircraft taxied, KQ staff boarded the aircraft and asked Wetang’ula, who was then with fellow senators in the first-class section, to get off the plane.

They said he had failedito produce an ID in accordance with the new rules published by KCAA.  “I explained to the airline staff that I forgot to pick my ID card from the travel bag, which my driver and security officer had driven  to Mombasa ahead of me,” Wetang’ula told reporters.

“When they insisted, I produced my KQ Frequent Flyer Platinum Card, which bears my name, my Parliamentary medical card, which has my photo and all the five bank credit cards — just to prove that it was me, but none of them could hear this,” he said.  Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko defended KQ on his Facebook page.

Sonko said President Uhuru Kenyatta always produces identification documents when flying and other Kenyans should do the same.  “Hata mimi (even me) and the President show IDs and passports. We need to discuss development, not personal issues …,” he said.


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