JKIA’s Sh37 billion runway project now hangs in the balance

JKIA in Nairobi
A Kenya Airways plane at the JKIA in Nairobi.
The much-awaited construction of a new terminal at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi hangs in the balance despite the approval of a Sh16.5 billion loan by the African Development Bank (AfDB) to finance the project.

Reports emerging from aviation circles in Nairobi indicate that AfDB is just about to back out of the deal following the State’s failure to give a detailed strategy of how it plans to raise the rest of the money needed for the Sh37 billion project.

“The AfDB wants to know how the Kenyan government proposes to come up with the rest of the money needed to build the runway,” reads a new report published by the Indian Ocean Newsletter.

The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) had planned to use part of the AfDB loan to hire a consultant to prepare an impact study for the project.

“Since the AfDB has refused to disburse the first instalment of the loan, the KAA has been unable to conduct this audit, which has delayed the project,” the report adds.

Following the approval of the loan in November, the KAA had indicated that construction of the second runway would commence in the second half of this year to enable JKIA to handle bigger aircraft that ply intercontinental routes.

The proposed JKIA second runway, whose design was financed by the AfDB, is 4.8 kilometres long and 75 metres wide – a significant improvement from the current runway that has a length of 4.2 kilometres and a width of 60 metres.

KAA managing director Johny Andersen last year said that the proposed runway would nearly double the movement of aircraft from 25 to 45 per hour thus minimising delays caused by mishaps on path.

READ: Nairobi JKIA is getting a new runway at a cost of Sh37 billion

“The new runway will be an upgrade of the existing one (which was built in the 1970s). This will be a category two runway that conforms to international standards,” Mr Andersen said.

JKIA, which is the busiest airport in East Africa, is expected to handle slightly over 17 million passengers annually by 2020, with growth expected to hit 35 million passengers a year by 2030.

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