, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 7 – The Kenya Airports Authority maintains that modernisation of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) is still within schedule with all the proposed projects going on as planned.
KAA Corporate Affairs Manager Dominic Ngigi dismissed accusations that the project is a white elephant as "unfair and unjustified."
"This is a demand-driven construction project. When JKIA was opened, it was designed to cater for 2.5 million people but we are currently doing 5.2 million passengers. We are constrained so it is unfortunate that people misunderstood this," the manager said.
Four years after the rehabilitation which aimed to expand the airport to enable it handle more passengers and cargo started, only the first phase of the project has been completed.
When the project kicked off in November 2006, this segment was expected to last 10 months but it ran into a hitch when in mid 2007 it was delayed by among other things a shortage in cement and heavy rains.
"Phase one is complete and was done at a cost of Sh2.6billion and we are now in phase two and the tender was won by CATIC (China National Aero-Technology International Engineering Company)," said Mr Ngigi told Capital Business.
The first phase comprised of civil infrastructure which included the expansion of the parking areas and construction of taxiways and extension of fuel hydrant system. The aircraft parking bay has been increased from 23 to 44.
For the second package, the authority has secured the nearly Sh5 billion from development partners to carry out the second phase of the project, which is expected to be completed in 2013.
Agence Française de Développement (AFD) is financing this phase which involves the construction of passenger terminal four, parking garage for 1,500 cars at a cost of Sh3.8 billion ($46.6million) while the World Bank will fund the balance of Sh1.1billion.
The scope of the third package involves the renovation of terminal 1, 2, and 3 at a cost of Sh7.8billion and was expected to start in August 2010 while that of the fourth package is projected to a cost of Sh4.1billion ($49.7million) which will be fully financed by AFD.
Although the money is available, KAA acknowledges that it is difficult to give the timelines of when these proposed projects will commence.
JKIA has become an integral aviation hub in the region which has over the years experienced significant economic growth.
This importance and increased economic activities saw the airport, which handles 80 percent of Kenya\’s passenger air traffic bag a major award last month for being the biggest cargo shipping hub in Africa, overtaking Cairo and Johannesburg.
It is this foresight and the strategic location that Kenya holds that informed the rehabilitation of the airport which was projected to serve the needs of travellers up until 2024.
The government has also undertaken the renovation of other airports and airstrips across the country which is being done in tandem with the JKIA upgrade in order to position the country to take advantage of the huge investment opportunities that have been presented by regional integration and increased economic activities.
The upgrade of the Kisumu International Airport for instance which handles slightly over 200,000 passengers annually and is the third busiest airport in the country, is almost complete.
The works involved expanding the facility\’s runway, taxiway, apron and a new terminal building to accommodate a projected growth in passenger and cargo traffic as well as bigger aircrafts such as Boeing B737 and B767.
The new terminal is expected to handle two million passengers annually and is expected to be ready for use in the next three months.
The increased operations at the airport has helped to boost KAA\’s profitability although Mr Ngigi maintained that while posting positive figures is good, their main focus is to facilitate the development of world class aviation infrastructure that can support economic development for the Kenya and the region.
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