Kenya-Somalia relations are set to undergo a strenuous test once again, following an exposé aired by Citizen TV on Monday night, May 18, showing questionable activity at a commercial building in Eastleigh estate, Nairobi.
According to the report, the Somalia Embassy in Kenya had set up a makeshift office at a storey building in the heart of the Nairobi estate, from where it was allegedly processing its nationals for repatriation to their motherland.
The undercover journalist noticed that there was a hub of activity at the building donned with blue-coloured glass, where several people could be seen walking in and out at regular intervals, prompting the Citizen TV journalists to probe even further.
Door number 15, on the 5th floor of Madina Mall, was identified as the base of the operations that have raised several questions.
Police officers manning a roadblock that went up in Eastleigh estate on May 7, 2020, after the government ordered a lockdown over a spike in Covid-19 cases.
The high human traffic stood out like a sore thumb, as it was uncommon following the Eastleigh lockdown that was announced by Health CS Mutahi Kagwe on May 6.
“There will no movement into and out of Eastleigh and Old Town in Mombasa from 7 p.m. today. I warned you that cases are increasing and you can see we have more cases,” he stated at the time.
However, in the latest exposé, Lancet Kenya admitted that it has been conducting tests on the Somali nationals in Eastleigh, with Managing Director Ahmed Kalebu, saying that there was no secrecy around the Eastleigh testing facility.
"There's no secrecy, and believe you me that the results that we send to the government, I can tell you for a fact because once they compile the report, they share with all of us. It is accurate," he said.
His statement raised questions as to whether the Kenyan Government was aware of the Covid-19 results emanating from Eastleigh.
Leaked Covid-19 test results from the testing centre showed that at least 13 people had tested positive for the virus in the last 3 days, while according to the daily data availed by the Ministry of Health (MoH), shows only 2 Covid-19 positive cases from Eastleigh on Sunday, May 17.
"The 17 Nairobi cases were distributed in the following estates: Kibra (9), a mandatory quarantine centre in the capital (2), Eastleigh (2), Aga Khan, Kamulu, Dandora and Pangani all registered one case each," the press release from the MoH reads in part.
On the other hand, Lancet Kenya's Group MD admitted to having tested over 200 samples provided by the Somalia Embassy centre in Eastleigh, going on to reveal that they had observed a high infection rate, which he tied to the culture of the largely Muslim residents who reside in the estate.
"You eat together on the same plate, meet to chat in barazas (a place where public meetings are held). People tend to mingle together so much so I'm not surprised that the number of people who are positive, from amongst the cohort that we are testing to go to Somalia, through their Embassy, are actually positive. That is consistent with the pattern we are seeing," he elaborated.
Abdulaziz Billow Ali, a freelance journalist affiliated with the China Global Television Network (CGTN), came out with a statement after the special feature was aired.
"I believe all samples are verified by the Kenyan government through its labs. The private lab in Eastleigh allows Somalis to provide samples for testing due to the back to back lockdown imposed by the Kenyan govt. I am told those cleared are issued health certificates by the Kenyan Government," he tweeted.
The latest exposé comes just days after the delicate nature of Kenya-Somalia relations was placed on the spot, by President Uhuru Kenyatta's directive to have the border with the country's eastern neighbour closed, on May 16.