Legislators from Western Province supported a petition demanding for a statement on the delayed rehabilitation of Kakamega Airstrip that has stalled its operations.
Member for Ikolomani, Bernard Shinali, tabled the petition before the National Assembly on Wednesday on behalf of the residents of Kakamega County who said since the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) plans to expand the airstrip in 2015, everything had stalled affecting many livelihoods.
According to KAA, the rehabilitation of the airstrip included the extension of the runway from 1.3 kilometers to 2 kilometers to accommodate larger aircraft, and the expansion of the terminal building to allow for the development of VIP facilities.
This was to be implemented with the partnership of the authority and Kakamega County government to fast-track the development projects. The County government of Kakamega was to acquire additional land around the airstrip, while Kenya Airports Authority through the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure to fund the expansion of the runway, and terminal building.
Members of Parliament who supported the petition include: Silverse Anami (Shinyalu), Benard Washili (Mumias East), Wafula Wamunyinyi (Kanduyi) and Chris Wamalwa (Kiminini).
Wamalwa noted that the Western tourist circuit was a critical in enhancing domestic tourism however; People traveling to Kakamega have to fly to Kisumu. “Private operators keep asking for airstrips to be done smoothly.”
Wamunyinyi noted that the entire Western Province does not have a functional airstrip citing that even the yet to be developed Bungoma airstrip was almost being grabbed as the land was idele.
Anami on the other hand said once the rehabilitation has been done, over 2000 Buchina and Buteheri village residents who offered land for its expansion will be able to make informed decisions on whether they will be affected or not. He also said it was difficult to execute emergency services especially patients who have to be transferred to Kisumu or Eldoret.
Kakamega Airstrip located within Shinyalu Constituency is located three kilometers from Kakamega town was reopened in 204 after three years of upgrading. Fly 540 Aviation Company and East Africa Airline Services operated one daily flight then. However, the flights were suspended citing a poor runaway.
Kakamega is located approximately 400 kilometres west of Nairobi. It is the commercial and administrative capital of the second biggest county in Kenya – Kakamega – and is famous for its old colonial gold mines and being a home of the Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology.
The area also hosts the only tropical rainforest in East Africa, Kakamega Forest, which is popular among tourists for its diverse range of birds, insects, butterflies and small mammals