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Viral photo does not show bags at Kenya’s busiest airport awaiting controversial inspection by the tax authority

IN SHORT: There has been public outrage over Kenya’s tax authority’s recent inspection and taxing of personal and household items from travellers arriving in the country. But this viral image does not show suitcases about to be expected at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

An image shared by a Facebook page claiming to be that of the Kenya Police Service has gone viral in the country. It shows a huge pile of suitcases on a tiled floor.

The page suggested to its 55,000 followers that the image showed luggage belonging to passengers arriving at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), waiting to be inspected and possibly taxed. 

Located in the capital city of Nairobi, JKIA is one of the busiest airports in East Africa.

Many users reacted with disbelief. 

The image comes as the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) officials have been accused of harassing travellers at the airport. 

Local media reported in November 2023 that passengers arriving from international destinations were forced to pay duty for personal or household items worth KSh75,000 (US$500) and above, with other items confiscated.

The authority said they carried out this exercise because there had been an increase in taxable items not being declared. 

The image has been posted here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

But is the image from JKIA? We checked.

KenyaAirport_False

AI-generated image

The Facebook page shared a link to its website, which does not work, while another red flag is that it uses a Gmail account. 

The official website of the Kenya Police Service is https://www.kenyapolice.go.ke/ and not the commercial http://www.kenyacops.com/ as the page claims. 

A reverse image search located the image published on Dreamstime, a stock photography website.

The image is captioned: “Concept illustration of challenges of Airport Luggage and the Suitcase Hassle. Suitcase with luggage at airport.” It is described as an “AI-generated” image. You can read more about images generated by artificial intelligence, or AI, in our guide here.

A further search showed the image was posted online on 28 August, months before complaints by passengers at JKIA in November.

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