Proposed Nakuru airport project faces turbulence from regulator

The Nakuru airport
The Nakuru airport is expected to serve one million travellers annually. PHOTO/FILE
The Nakuru airport construction project now hangs in the balance of uncertainty after the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) declined to approve it on grounds that the site lays on a flamingos flight route.

The project, whose groundbreaking was initially set for 2004, was to be located on a 642-acre piece of land in the Pipeline area – 15km from Nakuru town along the Nakuru-Nairobi highway.

The Nakuru County government proposed two other sites for the project; one in Njoro and another in Naivasha. The Njoro site was rejected because of the poor terrain.

“We have our engineers and those from the KCAA [Kenya Civil Aviation Authority] surveying the Naivasha site and once the process is complete, we will know if it is suitable,” said Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) communications manager Angela Tilitei.

The type of aircraft that will be flying to Nakuru, the number of passengers expected to use the facility and the direction of wind are some of the factors that will determine the approval.

The airport’s economic viability will also be a key consideration since the facility must generate enough revenue to sustain its services.

In the country’s 2011/12 budget, the government allocated Sh250 million for preparatory work of the airport which is designed to handle medium-sized aircraft with a capacity of up to 60 people.

The facility is expected to serve one million travellers annually – fuelling Nakuru’s economic growth, which was ranked the fourth-fastest growing town in the world in a 2011 survey conducted by the United Nations.

Nakuru has invested heavily in tourism, especially in infrastructure, and it is hoped the airport will boost the multi-billion industry.

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