Friday, February 09, 2007


The Kenya cabinet has approved the upgrading of Wajir Airport to a full civilian national airport as a first step to making it Kenya’s fourth international airport. The airport, currently being run by the military, will be handed over to both Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) and the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) early next month.

Transport Permanent Secretary Mr Gerrishon Ikiara says that a ministerial committee, which had earlier been appointed to handle the issue, forwarded the findings to the Cabinet last year.
"The Cabinet has now approved the committee’s recommendations that Wajir airport be made into a fully operational civilian airport," Ikiara told the Standard on Thursday.

The move is temporary since the main plan is to make Wajir Airport an International Airport.
"The airport is big, with a long runway which will accommodate bigger airliners like jets. Currently it will only accommodate propeller aircrafts with a capacity of between 30 to 40 or 80 passengers," he said.

Planes to be cleared before proceeding to Nairobi

However, the military will still be using the airport, Ikiara.

"We want to take advantage of the business going on in Somalia and use the airport to make trade between the two countries easier," he said.

Upgrading Wajir is also a security move.

"All aircrafts coming from Somali will be forced to land in Wajir before coming to Nairobi. Those coming from Wilson Airport will also have to land in Wajir for a security check up," said Ikiara.

Last year, the Government slapped a ban on cargo planes from Wilson Airport flying to Mogadishu after the Islamic Courts Union took control of sections of the country and after insecurity fears were raised.

Internal Security Assistant Minister Peter Munya had said earlier that the Government is rehabilitating Wajir Airstrip so that planes from Mogadishu will be required to land there for clearance before proceeding to Nairobi.

The contract to upgrade the airport’s infrastructure was awarded to a Wajir businessman, and the Government has already spent Sh140 million in the project. The rehabilitation works have been finalised.

"We were only upgrading the runway, terminal and control tower to allow passenger planes to land and take off," he said.

Airport to be used as a feeder

Ikiara said that the move will provide a safe landing for flights from Somalia in the Kenyan airspace. "We want to use the airport as a feeder airport to both Jomo Kenyatta International and Wilson airports as well as other local airports" he said.

Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) Director General, Mr Chris Kuto said that already his officers are at the airport waiting for the take over.

"I have already posted Air control personnel, engineers and then it will be fully operational as other national airports," he said.

The Kenya Airports Authority has already appointed a manager at the airport, Kuto said.
Fly 540 Operations Director Mr Nixon Ooko said they plan to be the first airline to launch scheduled passenger flights to Wajir next month.

"We are looking into Wajir… the charter flights which have been flying there from Wilson Airport are too expensive," he said.
In other news, crime seems unabated in various parts of the country as thugs shoot on Kenya Police and ordinary citizens are left without enough security.....
Are we loosing our patience in the Government guaranteeing our security....The gavaa has to deliver or we choose ODM-KENYA...