The Star (Nairobi)

21 June 2012

Kenya: Row Rocks New Wilson Airport Fencing Project

CONTROVERSY has hit the new fencing project at Wilson Airport with claims that some land has hived off for private development. The Kenya Airport Authority project is being funded by the World Bank. Despite the concerns over the genuine boundary, the fencing of the airport is continuing as scheduled.

Members of the Wilson Airport Aircraft Operators Committee have raised the matter after it emerged that the World Bank is set to finance of part of the fencing of Wilson Airport. Yesterday, KAA Public Relations Manager Dominic Ngigi failed to respond to questions we raised with him despite exchanging emails three times. "The Wilson Air operators Committee is an important stakeholder to KAA. I need to know what those issues are. I requested this additional information from Maxwell (writer) and he has not supplied them to me yet. I am still waiting," stated Ngigi despite a questionnaire we emailed to him.

The questionnaire sought to find out from him whether the fencing line was as per the KAA survey map of the actual Wilson Airport boundary. It also sought to know whether the KAA had managed to reposes all land which had been encroached on and the cost of the fencing project. World Bank senior communication manager Peter Warutere referred us to KAA for comment. "Thanks for your email below. Have you checked the details of this project with KAA?" posed Warutere in response to our query.

Yesterday, the operators said they were opposed to the project because the fencing line as per the KAA survey map is allegedly being followed. They claimed that powerful individuals within the government who have been allowed to encroach on airport land, are behind the hurried fencing project. "If the World Bank goes ahead and supports this fencing project, the bank will be abetting high level corruption in Kenya. Corruption is a challenge to us all and must be addressed by all," read one of the protest letters

A spot check by the Star revealed that the construction work was underway to erect a wall fence on the Southern part of the airport. Late last year, the airport authorities had a hard time in evicting squatters, who had invaded the airport land and renamed it Mitumba slums. Although sources had confirmed that Kenya Air Authority had suspended the fencing project after protests were filed by, the Star established that the fencing has been going on under the supervision of armed police officers.

Chairman of the Wilson airport aircraft operators committee Gad Kamau said by allowing the fencing, then the authorities were accepting to cede part of its land to grabbers. "The fencing should have stopped. Our work is to stop encroachment and involve all stakeholders in this kind of decisions," said Kamau

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