, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 1 – The government says that it will complete the Greenfield airport terminal in Embakasi by early 2017, if the controversial project takes off this year.
Cabinet Secretary for Transport and Infrastructure Michael Kamau told journalists on Monday that the project had been slowed down by leadership and financial wrangles that have since been resolved.
He explained that the project had been estimated to take 36 months to complete and that if construction took off immediately it would be ready by the end of 2017.
Kamau added that the government had already allocated money to the expansion project, which is expected to handle a capacity of 20 million passengers annually.
“The Kenya Airports Authority got Sh8 billion in the last financial year which ended yesterday and they have budgeted for another Sh8 billion this year so resources are not a problem.
“But we will get very serious and I expect that after consultation within the broader government we will see the Greenfield terminal starting,” he said.
He also admitted that the airport urgently needed an expansion noting that the lack of parking space was forcing the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) to send aircraft to neighbouring countries like Tanzania and Uganda.
Pilots are also sometimes forced to make additional flights to Mombasa and Kisumu in search of parking space.
And although it was not immediately clear how much costs were incurred as a result, Kenya Airways CEO Titus Naikuni explained that the additional flight expenses and accommodation for its staff were costly.
“Parking space is limited for aircraft and we are then forced to get them out of here into those airports that are not far from here. But I don’t have the actual figure of what we pay and it depends on the size of the aircraft,” said Naikuni.
“But we are taking revenue away from here to other airports and then the crew has to stay in hotels which are an additional cost.”
Kamau also said that airport officials seconded by other ministries would be placed under a central command at the airport so as to hasten the clearance of goods.
He noted that it sometimes took four days for goods to be cleared from the airport saying it was unacceptable.