Uproar after Senate team files nil findings from Seattle junket
The appetite by lawmakers to travel abroad for benchmarking is now in question after it emerged that a Senate committee planned for a foreign trip to source for information could actually have been sourced locally.
The Senate committee on Justice, Legal and Human Rights (JLHRC), it emerged yesterday, travelled to Seattle, US to look for the information which they could have gotten by simply travelling to Ethiopia or emailing Ethiopian Airlines.
The revelations arose in the Senate chamber yesterday when the committee chaired by Nyamira Senator Okong’o Omogeni tabled a report on its enquiry into the plight of families of the victims of an Ethiopian Airlines passenger jet which crashed on 10 March 2019 near the town of Bishoftu.
The Nairobi bound plane crashed six minutes after takeoff, killing all the 157 people aboard and raising questions about the safety of the Boeing 737 MAX 8, a new model that also crashed in Indonesia in October 2018.
Strangely, the committee then chaired by Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei did not make any findings or recommendations, triggering fierce reactions from senators and Speaker Kenneth Lusaka.
“You cannot travel to Seattle and hold all these meetings with all these people and come out with zero findings and zero recommendation on a petition as important as this one,” Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua said.
“Then, in fact, the committee lacks the moral authority to hold the government to account for their silence in providing justice to these people. This is a report that should be rejected in total,” Wambua added.
Senators Moses Wetangula (Bungoma), George Khaniri (Vihiga) and Petronilla Were (Nominated) also trained their guns on the committee, questioning the rationale behind the ‘no finding and recommendation’ report by the committee.
“Is it in order for the committee to spend public money to travel to Seattle in the US, headquarters of Boeing and then bring no findings? This is a serious matter,” Wetangula lamented.
But Omogeni defended the team saying its mandate was limited to the allegations by the petitioners that the government had failed to process death certificates for the victims of the crash.
Lusaka regretted that serious decision made by the committee to travel all the way top Seattle turned out be an irrelevant tour. Cherargei sought more time to get to the bottom of the matter.