Isiolo airport project’s slow pace now raises concerns

The Senate has expressed concerns over the slow pace of the project.
The Senate has expressed concerns over the slow pace of the project. PHOTO/FILE
The upgrade of the Isiolo airstrip into an international airport is behind schedule, but the government has assured that the facility will open its doors for flights by December.

Deputy President William Ruto on Sunday asked the airport’s contractors to speed up work since the project had fallen behind the July 4 completion deadline.

Mr Ruto said the Isiolo airport, the first international airport in northern Kenya, would open up the region for tourism and other economic possibilities.

“The airport, once operational, will make this region more accessible as there will be direct flights,” He said on Sunday when he toured the project site.

Mr Ruto’s tour came exactly a year after the Senate expressed concerns over the slow pace of the project.

The Senators accused the national government of financing the Sh900 million project in “bits and pieces” yet it is a Vision 2030 flagship project.

They argued that the project, which was launched in March 2011 – with a one year completion timeline, was running behind schedule due to the absence of political will.

Senate Minority Leader Moses Wetang’ula said: “Isiolo airport is part of the Vision 2030 flagship project. These were priority projects. Why is the government procrastinating its funding?”

But on Sunday, Mr Ruto ostensibly brushed off the claims when he assured that the government would continue to improve the region’s business environment by improving infrastructure and boosting security.

And because the project’s team has not been reliable on dates so far, Mr Ruto suggested changing the substantial completion date to December.

The Isiolo airport’s upgrade follows the July 2012 completion of the construction of a 1.4 kilometre run way, an apron, two taxiways, patrol road, fencing and runway safety works.

A passenger terminal building with an area of 4,800 square meters and capacity to handle 125,000 passengers a year has been established.

The project also involves construction of taxiways cargo terminus, hangar, the control tower, staff quarters, meteorological centre, fire station, and parking areas among others.

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