(Posted 06th December 2013)

But not a better airport’ is clearly missing from Kidero’s election manifesto, as the Nairobi Governor yesterday set the course for a head on collision with the central government and President Uhuru Kenyatta, who earlier this week presided over the ground breaking ceremony for the expansion of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Governor Kidero, aka ‘Kidero the Slapper’ as the social media branded him after an altercation with a female member of parliament a few weeks ago, during which he allegedly slapped her – YouTube footage seems to confirm those allegations – in a sudden change of mind demanded that the Kenya Airport Authority stop any and all construction of the new airport ‘Project Greenfield’ but also of the nearly ready Terminal 4, citing a lack of permit from the Nairobi County Government.

Details of a letter emerged yesterday afternoon and were sent to this correspondent by a regular aviation source, whose invectives towards the Governor, whom he called a ‘glorified mayor’ among other unprintable phrases, which made even this hardened scribe blush under his sun tan.

The Nairobi City County has established that your organization (KAA) has not sought for approval of various developments going on within the airports vicinity pursuant to the requirements of the Physical Planning Act Cap286 and other related statutes. Developments within the jurisdiction of Nairobi City County by all investors have to seek prior development permission before they are commenced. Accordingly, this is to advise you to request your consultants to immediately submit the Master Layout Plan, architectural and structural plans of the airport facility on Terminal 4 and the proposed Greenfield Terminal expansion of the airport retrospect determination and approval’. The letter then raised the stakes even higher when reference was made to a planned dumping site for Nairobi near the airport, which the former Nairobi City Council had halted when KAA informed them of the clear and present danger to aircraft landing and taking off from JKIA due to increased bird hazards, should this particular site be turned into a rubbish dump: ‘The KCAA has also on several occasions urged City Hall not to build the new Integrated Solid Waste Management dumping site in Ruai, which we need urgently as Dandora is full, as this will breed birds, which is a serious security threat to aircraft’, clearly implying between the lines that as an act of retaliation, should KAA not comply with his ‘order’, the dump may after all be opened.

KAA in turn insists, and a regular source confirmed as much yesterday evening, that they are within their rights to construct any additions, alterations and expansions within their land, as stipulated under the KAA Act, which allows for such activities without further approvals needed by any other authority.

This very likely now sets the stage for a protracted legal tussle in court and it remains to be seen if KAA will follow the Presidential Directive to fast track construction and ensure that the new terminal and second runway are ready by 2017 or else stop the project.

Aviation sources were swift to denounce the governor’s action as purely politically motivated, him being a member of the mainstream opposition, and trying to promote a hidden agenda by sabotaging such a key infrastructure project and are expecting KAA to ignore the letter. Kenya’s Ministry of Transport through the Principal Secretary Nduva Muli has already responded by claiming the county government has no jurisdiction over KAA gazetted areas like the airport and more reactions are expected within hours from other central government sources reportedly sharing the same view and spoiling for a fight to, as one source put it, ‘put that fellow in his place’.

Let’s hope that aviation and infrastructural development are not going to be the losers in this senseless fight started by Kidero, so watch this space for more emerging news on this latest saga.

(An artist’s impression of the new Greenfield mega terminal)


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