NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 2 – President Mwai Kibaki has officially opened the expanded Kisumu International Airport and reassured the government will develop various modes of transport to spur economic activities in the country.
Disclosing that the first phase of the Kisumu International Airport upgrading project was implemented at a cost of about Sh3 billion, the president said the government has already set aside Sh1.9 billion for the implementation of phase two of the airport upgrading project.
“This phase will include the construction of a parallel taxiway, cargo apron and associated facilities,” President Kibaki said.
The Head of State later addressed a rally at Moi Stadium in Kisumu after he opened the airport and commissioned the rehabilitation of the Nyamasaria-Kisian road.
President Kibaki particularly singled out air transport and the aviation sector as a strategic industry in the global economy because of its critical role of providing quick transportation of people and goods.
The president pointed out that the government has put emphasis on the development of aviation infrastructure in the country.
Said the president; “Indeed, the expansion of facilities at Kisumu International Airport is part of an airport infrastructure improvement programme.”
President Kibaki said the two projects were important not only for the residents of Kisumu County but also to the country and the region as a whole.
The president expressed satisfaction that the successful upgrading of the Kisumu Airport would enhance its capacity to handle increased air traffic both from within the East African Community and internationally.
“The largest type of passenger and cargo aircraft will now be able to land at this Airport. This presents enormous opportunities for trade and investments.”
The president challenged entrepreneurs engaged in the import and export business to explore new avenues of business within Kisumu and its environs so as to attract international cargo carriers.
The Head of State further encouraged stakeholders in the tourism sector to aggressively market tourist destinations such as Musinga Island and Kakamega Forest to attract increased domestic and international tourists in the airport.
Such efforts, the president asserted, would go a long way in improving the economic and social welfare of the residents in the country’s western region and beyond.
President Kibaki observed: “I wish to challenge residents of this region to take advantage of the investments we are making. In particular I wish to see increased production so that the expanded airports and improved roads can be used to better the lives of the people.”
On road network improvement, the President said the rehabilitation and reconstruction of a 33 kilometre road around and within Kisumu City at a cost of about Sh6 billion would ease the movement of vehicle traffic in and out of the city.
“I am confident that this project, together with several others being implemented by the Government such as the expansion of the airport, improvement of the road network as well as electrification of fish landing sites, will create a more conducive environment for doing business,” the president affirmed.
President Kibaki, once again, underscored that improved infrastructure would connect producers to markets and make Kisumu the major hub of the larger Lake Victoria Basin region.
He acknowledged that Kisumu has the potential to be the entry point of trade and investments in the entire region but urged area residents to rise up to the occasion and take advantage of the available opportunities.
President Kibaki, therefore, thanked development partners for their support in the successful implementation of the crucial projects especially the World Bank.
Speaking during the occasion, Prime Minister Raila Odinga said the ground-breaking for the Nyamasaria-Kisumu-Kisian road and opening of Kisumu International Airport is a landmark event for the revival of the fortunes of the Western region.
“It goes a long way towards fulfilling our dream of linking and opening up all parts of Kenya through modern infrastructure,” the Prime Minister said.
The Prime Minister further pointed out that for Kenya to compete effectively at the international arena, the transport sector has to be reliable, efficient and environmentally friendly.
The Prime Minister said upgraded airport and the rehabilitated road would open up western Kenya.
“All these should give us hope that Kenya is poised for a takeoff; that Kenya’s moment is beckoning. For the people of Kisumu in particular and Western Kenya in general, the opening of the airport and launch of the road brings pleasant memories of the good old days,” the Prime Minister said.
Other speakers included Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Local Government Musalia Mudavadi, ministers Amos Kimunya, Franklin Bett, James Orengo, Otieno Kajwang, Paul Otuoma, Moses Wetangula, Musa Sirma, Noah Wekesa, Esther Murugi, Robinson Githae, Prof. George Saitoti, Sam Ongeri, Chris Obure, Anyang’ Nyong’o and area Member of Parliament Olago Aluoch among others.
The legislators appealed to President Kibaki and the Prime Minister to tour the country to preach peace so that the nation does not experience a repeat of the 2007/2008 post-election violence.