By CYRUS OMBATI
Kenya: Travellers using Kenya’s airports have lately been taking longer to gain entry into the facilities following stiffer security procedures introduced in the wake of terror threats.
The new measures were put in place after terrorists attempted to blow up a section of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in January 2014.
Four suspects were later arrested.
Authorities declared that all vehicles be stopped and searched at entry points while occupants alight for frisking.
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The security upgrade was announced by Kenya Airports Authority Managing Director Lucy Mbugua in January, changing the way things are done at JKIA and other airports.
This meant that passengers must arrive at the airport at least an hour earlier than the normal reporting time to cater for vehicle security checks during entry.
JKIA has been facing security challenges in the recent past, including a fire that paralysed operations for three days in August 2013, as well as an explosion that occurred on January 17, this year.
Head of airports security Eric Kiraithe said the new checks were put in place in response to intelligence reports and matters of concern raised to their institutions.
Kiraithe said the security arrangements had been planned long before and urged for cooperation from visitors to airports.
“We had long planned for the increased security checks so that 16 vehicles would be stopped for inspection at any given time, just before the roundabout at JKIA. Other areas will also have similar checks,” said Kiraithe.
JKIA is being expanded to accommodate more visitors, vehicles and planes.
Kiraithe said once construction is complete passengers will spend less time being cleared.
The security upgrade has resulted in long queues at the airport’s main entrance, but officials say it is for the sake of the passengers’ safety.
Officers doing checks ask entrants to declare the contents of their luggage, and caution them there would be further screening at the departure terminal.
Within the airport, the Immigration Department has also introduced machines using biometric technology for passengers leaving the county.
The department captures and stores data of all travellers as part of efforts to ensure safety.