Maputo — A visa hitch saw one of Kenya's representative at the Fiba Africa club championships, Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) women basketball team, detained at Maputo International Airport for close to three hours before being allowed access into Mozambique.
A communication break-down between the Mozambique migration officials and Mozambique Basketball Federation (MBF) officials over whether the team should pay the mandatory $50 visa fee before entry saw the team, which touched down in Maputo on Tuesday 3.45pm EAT after a four-hour flight, holed up at the Airport until the matter was sorted out.
According to a MBF official who sought anonymity, they had successfully requested the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that all participating teams be exempted from paying the visa fee and that communication had been shared with the migration officials at the airport through a letter.
"It is funny that even after presenting a letter to them on the same, this migration officials are still adamant that the teams must pay visa fee, " he said.
A closed-door meeting between the migration and MBF officials at the airport saw the team finally allowed entry after close to four hours.
"Such minor hitches are very normal and ours is simply to settle down as fast as possible and get down to business as we prepare for our first match on Friday," KPA head of delegation Bildad Kisero said.
According to Kisero, who is the head of administration at KPA in Mombasa, the players are in high spirits for the championship.
"This is the best team we have brought to the African championships in the 14 years we have been around. It's therefore my sincere belief that they will remain focused and stay on top of their game throughout the championships," said Kisero who is confident the team will improve on their fifth place finish last year when the championships were held in Luanda, Angola.
Ugandan import Jamila Zama, who was in Togo for a 3-on-3 basketball tournament with her national team, linked up with the team in Nairobi before departure to Maputo.
"I am a bit tired, sleepy and hungry after close to thirteen hours of travel, plus the food in Togo was not very friendly to me, I hope to fully recover after a day or two," said Zama, who also represented Uganda in the 3-on-3 World Championships held in China in September.
Other players in the travelling contingent comprised of 12 players and eight officials are US-based Taudencia Katumbi, Burundian Cynthia Irankunda, Uganda-based Christina Akinyi and Becky Nkatha.
Others are captain Brenda Angeshi, Annerose Mandela, Yvonne Akinyi, Donasama Obonyo, Brigid Nanzala, Debra Atieno and Linet Atieno.