Airline operators want Jitenge app suspended

Thursday, September 2nd, 2021 00:00 |
Jitenge app. Photo/Courtesy

The Kenya Association of Airline Operators (KAAO) has demanded the immediate suspension of the usage of Jitenge app for domestic travel.

Introduced in the year 2020, the digital travel locator app was a novel innovation of the Ministry of Health, used to register international travellers to Kenya. 

Its purpose was to monitor their health as it related to the Covid-19 virus and then to track and trace persons who developed symptoms of the virus. 

However on June 18, 2021, the ministry expanded this to  include  domestic travel.

A module of the Emergency Alert and Reporting System (EARS) and used by the ministry’s Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), the smartphone app was developed as part of the Covid-19 Travellers Health Surveillance system to support the government in the fight against the spread of Covid- 19 within Kenya.

Jifenge was made available as an Android Mobile Application to eliminate physical documents and has been deployed for use by both international and domestic airline travel across all Kenyan ports of entry.

“We in the aviation sector have monitored the usage in the last couple of months.

We note that there have been several developments that defeat the very purpose and essence of the app,” said Rtd Colonel E. K Waithaka, Secretary General-Kenya Association of Air Operators (KAAO) 

Travellers inconvenienced

The association has noted that the app is not operational most of the time and the generation of the Quick Response (QR) codes is too slow leading to delays that inconvenience travellers.

In addition, the app does not work on IOS (Apple) phones, but on Android phones only.

“While a negative PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test is mandatory for  international  travel coupled with the requirement for quarantine depending on country of origin and the need for contact tracing, the protocols are not applicable to all domestic travel and this effectively renders Jitenge ineffective,” says Colonel (rtd) Waithaka. 

“It is our considered view that Jitenge is only effective as a contact tracing mechanism if it is applied for everyone travelling around Kenya and not just for air transport passengers as this is clearly discriminatory.

It is for this reason that we now ask the Ministry of Health to suspend  the  usage  of the system for domestic travel as it has become an unnecessary inconvenience to air travellers, when by its own admission, its unable to track/trace everyone filling the form,” he said in conclusion.

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