, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 10 – The government has adopted major security changes at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport as the country gears up for a roll-out of direct flights to the United States in October.
The entire security system has been overhauled and more strict measures adopted in a bid to seal any loopholes.
Notably, National Youth Service personnel have been removed at the security checkpoints at the airport.
Speaking after a security assessment during a dawn tour at the facility, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi says anyone who is not supposed to be at the airport has been removed, while a section of the airport land that had been encroached has been recovered.
CS Matiangi has cautioned all operators at the airport, like taxi firms to adhere to the new regulations set, saying there will be no compromise in ensuring Kenyans and those visiting the country are safe.
“To all service providers, the operators of taxis and those who want to do business at this airport; we love them very much and we want their business to succeed, but there is one thing they must understand, we will not compromise on the order and security of this airport,” he asserted.
“We will be firm and we will take the decisions that we must take and everyone must obey and live within the framework of order that has been established by the management of this airport.”
CS Transport James Macharia and his Tourism counterpart Najib Balala were present during the security assessment tour.
They say the government is keen to improve services at JKIA after the facility was granted Category One status allowing direct flights to and from the US.
“There have been major improvements especially as we target the direct flights in October this year,” he said.
Of all the 10 outstanding issues, CS Macharia said only one is remaining to be addressed, to do with baggage handling at Terminus 2.
“We have to keep on pushing to make sure we receive the best results. This is a multi-agency engagement,” the CS said.
The airport, he said will also have a customer care with all agencies represented.
“Everybody who has issues will just need to walk there and get help,” he said.
CS Balala said all agencies were working together to ensure Kenyans and those visiting the country get quality services.
“We want our airport to be efficient,” he said. “This year already, July, August and September, most our accommodations are fully booked. There is a good season and it has started earlier.”
America’s Federal Aviation Administration approved non-stop air travel between the two countries after an audit, which largely included evaluation of security, in a move that will cut the flight time between Nairobi and Washington DC by more than seven hours.
Kenya Airways has already secured a landing slot at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.
The flight time between the Nairobi and New York will be cut by more than seven years.