• Upgraded airstrips to enhance transport connectivity, boost trade in the region and decongest KIA, thereby improving the passenger experience.
• The airstrips are expected to boost trade as they will be feeding Kisumu airport when the cargo handling facility is constructed.
The Kenya Airports Authority has started the rehabilitation of Kakamega and Migori airstrips at Sh174.7 million and Sh243.1 million respectively.
Kisumu International Airport (KIA) and Western region airports manager Selina Gor said the facelift of the airstrips runways will accommodate Code C aircraft.
The medium-range air transporters are in line with the International Civil Aviation Organisation standards.
Gor said the upgraded airstrips will enhance transport connectivity, boost trade in the region and decongest KIA thereby improving the passenger experience.
The upgrade is one of KAA’s major projects in Western in its mandate of administering, controlling and managing Kenya’s aerodromes.
The 38-acre Kakamega airstrip is being rehabilitated by M/S Halane Construction Limited with works projected to be complete by September 31 next year. The project is funded by the World Bank in collaboration with the national government.
The airstrip, Gor said, will increase auxiliary services, create employment opportunities and have a multiplier effect on the region's circular flow of income.
The facility is also expected to enhance aviation education through school visits and medical emergency evacuation with ease as a multibillion-shilling referral hospital is constructed in Kakamega.
The manager spoke during the media tour of the facility on Wednesday. The works commenced immediately. He said phase one of the project involved resurfacing the runway which was completed in 2011.
Further, emergency rehabilitation was done in preparation for the national holiday celebration last year.
Gor said phase two of the project will involve reconstruction and rehabilitation of the existing runway from 1.3km to two, to safely handle code C aircraft (Q300, Fokker 50, Buffaloes, Embraer 124, CRJ).
It also entails reconstructing aprons (aircraft parking) patrol road and perimeter fencing to ensure the security of passengers and aircraft.
She exuded confidence about the viability and future prospects of the airstrip saying it will be a crucial transport infrastructure in the county and its environs.
Migori airstrip (Lichota) is approximately 22km from the Tanzania-Kenya border and 8.3km from Migori town.
The 12-month works are expected to be completed on June 30, 2021. The overall work is to develop the airstrip runway to bitumen standards and pavement to accommodate Code 1C aircraft.
Gor said the proposed rehabilitation works will involve full reconstruction of the runway, construction of a new apron, security fence, and patrol road.
The airstrip is expected to enhance transport connectivity circuits and boost trade in Southern Nyanza, decongest KIA and boost tourism circuits in between Kenya and Tanzania.
Other airstrips in Nyanza include Kabunde in Homa Bay and Suneka in Kisii counties. They are expected to boost trade as they will be feeding KIA when the cargo handling facility is constructed.
Kisumu, the third-largest city in Kenya, serves as the communication and trading confluence for the Great Lakes Region - Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.
The airport, which was officially opened in 2011 by former President Mwai Kibaki, boasts of an international facility capable of accommodating Boeing 767 aircraft.
To facilitate the development of the agricultural industry for food security and growth, KAA has embarked on additional development of the airport.
Among the developments underway include cargo facilities which will position KIA as the key export airport for sugar, rice and fresh produce from the great lakes region.
Kisumu’s contribution to the national economy is significant. With the revival of the Kisumu port, brewery and cotton industry plant, coupled with strengthened support to the fishing industry, it is anticipated that the contribution will increase significantly.
Edited by R.Wamochie