Plans are underway to construct an airport in Nakuru County to provide an alternative landing base for Nairobi flights during an emergency.
Nakuru Governor Kinuthia Mbugua said he had held meetings with Kenya Airports Authority’s (KAA) management to assess the viability of an airport in the area.
The facility could be used for international flights in case of an emergency like the recent fire tragedy at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).
The governor said the county had started sourcing for land where the facility could be set up. “The Kenya Airports Authority will send a technical team to assess its viability,” he said.
County officials are already sourcing for land in Naivasha which is only 70 kilometres from Nairobi and is home to some of the best hotels.
The governor revealed the development when he hosted Transport Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau in his office Wednesday.
Previous plans by the Government to construct an airport near Nakuru town failed after environmentalists cautioned the site was on a bird migratory route.
A 625 acre piece of land had already been acquired for the planned construction and Sh250million allocated by the Government for preparatory work in the 2011/2012 fiscal year. Kamau said the land earmarked for the airport should be sold and the funds used to construct the new proposed facility. He however said the ministry should be consulted to conduct studies on the viability of the project before new land is acquired.
“Environmentalists were right and you should sell the land and use the money for the construction of the facility in a different area,” he added.
The Governor noted that airstrips in the area, including one in Njoro with a 1.4 kilometre runway, were in poor state and require renovation.
Construction of an airport in the county, which is only two hours from Nairobi, will be convenient for travellers who mostly rely on facilities in Eldoret, Kisumu or Mombasa in case of an emergency.
The county government had initiated discussions with KAA over the project before the fire tragedy at JKIA, which led to the suspension of international flights at the country’s main airport.