Airtel steps up with free JKIA wireless services for tourists


(Posted 10th August 2013)

One of Africa’s leading telecommunication companies, Airtel, has stepped up following the fire at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport earlier in the week.

The company rushed to install temporary boosters and towers to replace those burned on top of the arrival building and then went a step further by offering free internet access and limited free phone calls for passengers stranded or struggling to get rebooked for their onward journeys.

This is one fine example of how the spirit of Harambee has come to life in this time of crisis. They could charge for the service and yet offer it to our tourist visitors for free, to help them communicate with home. The visitors had a bad experience and such generosity will go a long way to make them feel better, make them feel welcome to Kenya. They know this country cares for them and is not taking advantage of their misery by even making them pay for communications while still at JKIA. Airtel should be given recognition for helping out at what must cost them a lot of money’ said a regular tourism source from Nairobi, while passing on the details.

Meanwhile has President Uhuru Kenyatta also come out firmly in denouncing any suggestion that terrorism could have been involved in the fire, telling Kenya and the world that there was not a shred of evidence of a bomb or any other advice which could have triggered the blaze. This is a timely reminder in particular for media houses whose headlines went way ahead of the situation, in the process adding insult to injury by unsettling potential travellers and scaring those already in Kenya to bits.

Investigators are now concentrating on searching for evidence if perhaps an electrical fault could have triggered the initial fire, or if other causes could be responsible for the incident.

Kenya Airport Authority has meanwhile erected tents, with heaters installed, to allow departing and arriving passengers to find some shelter before either boarding on their flights – all scheduled flights are now well near back to normal – or else clear immigration and customs at the domestic Unit 3, which has been turned into the main international arrival facility. Tourism stakeholders who have since then inspected the temporary measures are full of praise for the efforts undertaken by airlines and airport alike to facilitate the high season wave of arrivals and departures from East Africa’s main aviation hub.

Congratulations to Airtel, to national airline Kenya Airways and all the other carriers and to the staff at the airport of immigration, customs and airport authority for pulling of this miraculous recovery in the face of highest adversity.