Kenya: Queries as Treasury Pumps Billions Into Idle Airports

Isiolo International Airport taken on June 20, 2017 (file photo).
18 August 2019

A staggering Sh1.8 billion was allocated in the 2018/2019 financial year for renovation and infrastructural development of 24 airports and airstrips across the country despite minimal activity going on in the majority of them.

In the current financial year, the National Treasury has once again set aside Sh1.4 billion for renovation of 10 airstrips.

Questions however abound over the economic value of these airstrips, with details emerging during one of the parliamentary meetings that some of them do not receive even a single flight, hence no reason why taxpayers should continue to be burdened with financing non-viable projects.

The National Assembly's Transport committee, during a recent meeting with Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) officials, heard that Isiolo airstrip does not receive any flights despite being allocated Sh300 million in 2018/2019 and a further Sh350 million in the current financial year for upgrading.

Isiolo Woman Representative Rehema Jaldesa told the committee that it was pointless to allocate money to an airstrip with no economic value not only to the people of Isiolo but the country at large.

"What is the significance of these airstrips to the counties? The people of Isiolo are not employed there, even as casuals," Ms Jaldesa said.

KAA Managing Director Johnny Andersen however defended the authority, saying its work is limited to providing infrastructure at the airports and did not have any control on individual airports' commercial decisions.

He confirmed that there were no flights to and from Isiolo airstrip currently, but added that KAA had opened talks with several airlines to start using the facility.

"We are in dialogue with several airlines to fly there and promote the economy of Isiolo; hope we will get a breakthrough," Mr Andersen said.

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