Kenya links Ethiopian Airlines to loss of Jack Ma Covid-19 kits

Health Secretary Mutahi Kagwe
Health Secretary Mutahi Kagwe. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Twenty one packages that included unknown amounts of testing kits and preventive gear donated by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma never landed in Kenya after it was dispatched from Ethiopia.

The Ministry of Transport, which was to clear a total of 697 quantities, said it received the goods at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) short of 21 packages.

“We were to receive assorted medical supplies of 697 packages. But 21 packages was short landed and has not been accounted for by Ethiopian Airlines,” Chris Obure, the Transport chief administrative secretary (CAS) told the National Assembly’s Health committee.

“The rest of the items arrived safely and were dispatched to either Kenya Medial Research Institute (Kemri) or the ministry of Health as directed by Agnes Ayaga, the designated officer from the ministry.”

He said the 21 packages never arrived in Kenya at JKIA and that the shortfall was in Ethiopia and not Kenya.


Mr Obure said the ministry was involved in Jack Ma’s donation given that it was in charge of the Government Clearing Agency (GCA) that deals with clearance of imported goods destined for government agencies.

“We reported the issue of missing 21 packages to Ministry of Health and they are in touch with those who consigned it in Addis Ababa. There is nothing I can do,” Mr Obure told the committee chaired by Sabina Chege.

“We did not even know what the 21 packages comprised of. We cannot tell the value of the missing 21 packages.”

The committee is probing allegations that Covid-19 donations from Alibaba founder and the Chinese government were stolen or diverted on arrival before it was sold to the country’s premier medical supplier, the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (Kemsa).

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe had separately told the committee that neither the Chinese government nor the Jack Ma foundation have made any noise because they have determined nothing was stolen.

“If the donation was stolen, somebody should have been arrested. In fact the Chinese government and Mr Ma are thinking of giving us more donations. They have looked at this documents and determined that nothing has been stolen,” Mr Kagwe said.

Mr Obure told MPs that the donation arrived at JKIA on various dates and upon arrival, the licensed ground handler which was Kenya Airways moved the cargo from the airport to a bonded warehouse where GCA cleared the goods.

The consignee verified the quantities and goods received was consistent with air waybill. An air waybill (AWB) is a document that accompanies goods shipped by an international air courier to provide detailed information about the shipment and allow it to be tracked.

Mr Obure said all the five consignments were verified and collected by Dr Isabela Ayaga, the designated officer from ministry of Health.

Mr Obure said the first consignment comprising of Covid-19 detection kits arrived on March 24 and was released on same day to Kemri.

He said the second consignment of 274 packages of various items of medical supplies arrived on April 15 and was released on same day to Kemri.

The third comprised laboratory supplies, testing kits, screening equipment, hospital care which came in on May 17 and was released on May 24 to the ministry of Health.

Mr Obure said the fourth consignment comprising of 11,300 detection kits arrived May 20 and released on May 24 to Kemri.

The last consignment arrived on May 20 and discharged on May 24 to the ministry of Health.