Questions abound on JKIA deteriorating status

In Summary

•Major concerns are on the airport's lavatories, access to clean water and congested waiting bays

•Transport PS Esther Koimett says no excuse should be given on JKIA failing to meet international standards as it remains a key regional hub

JKIA arrivals and departure terminal. /FILE
JKIA arrivals and departure terminal. /FILE

The management of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) has now been put into question over deteriorating status of the facility, which could see the country's largest and busiest aviation installation loose its gleam.

Major concerns are on the airport's lavatories, access to clean water and congested waiting bays. The airport has also been having power failures in recent times, blamed on a failing backup generator in case of power interruptions.

There have also been complains over clearing of international arrivals coming into the country through foreign airlines, where whilst Kenya Airways passengers are quickly attended to, those using foreign airlines have to undergo tedious processes.

Numerous complains on poor workmanship have also been raised by individuals and a section of leaders, among them Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko, with fears the facility is being runned down.

In April, Sonko lashed at the Kenya Airports Authority(KAA) for poor management of washrooms at the international arrivals terminal. Sonko who shared a video online further complained of exposed cables with no appropriate water flashing mechanism. His video also showed some toilets with 'out of order signs.

“KAA wake up what's the point of paying millions of shillings to managers on salaries and yet they're sleeping on their jobs,"Sonko had said as he complained of having being electrocuted while he was revealing himself.

Things seems not to have changed since the governors' complaints as more fliers continue to lament over the poor status of the airport, which is also said to have squeezed boarding bays especially the international departures during peak hours.

“I have never been impressed with JKIA, the staff are also rude, if nothing is done then I dont see why it should be called an international airport,” Alex Mwangi, a frequent flier told the Star.

“JKIA has menitancance isues and they are untouchable,” another airport user, Ben Mwikwabe,asserted.

During the Sonko odeal, KAA blamed the poor state of the toilets to vandalism.

“We currently have a contractor on the ground who is systematically repairing and replacing the defective equipment,” the management said in a statement.

Yesterday, KAA told the Star the power outages are isolated cases but a back-up generator is always on standby.

“On water, we are supplied by the county government but we also have a borehole so there is always water at the airport,” a senior communication person told The Star.

Transport Principal Secretary Esther Koimett however has said no excuse should be given on JKIA failing to meet international standards as it remains a key regional hub.

“The ministry has not received any complains but there is no execuse. We must make sure the services are upto standards,” Koimett said, “We are focused on ensuring capacity is increased and JKIA remains a leading airport.”

The Star has established the KAA management has remained unsettled since the proposal to have KQ take over management of the airport, a move said to have affected decision making at the authority. The takeover was however later shelved after parliament intervened.

In March, the Kenya Aviation Workers Union (Kawu) called for the removal from office of KAA Chief Executive Johnny Andersen and chairman of the board Isaac Awuondo and their KQ counterparts, even as it accused “foreigners” of mismanaging local entities.

“They will run down everything then board a flight and go back home and leave us with our own problems,”KAWU Secretary General Moss Ndiema had said at a press briefing.

Andersen took over management of KAA on November 21,2016. His KQ counterpart Sebastian Mikosz who joined the airtline in 2017 has since bowed to pressure and is set to exit in December, six months before his term expires.

Traffic at JKIA has been growing year-on-year, pilling pressure on the facility. The total commercial passanger traffic at the airport was eight million last year, the Kenya Economic Survey 2019 indicates, an increase from 7.3 million the previous year.

Plans to construct a new Sh56 billion terminal–Greenfield project were shelved in March 2016, prematurely ending the project which was among the first to be launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta when he first came into power.