TRANSPORT SECRETARY NOW GIVES JULY 04TH AS OPENING DATES FOR NEW T4
(Posted 30th March 2014)
Kenya’s Transport Secretary Michael Kamau came out swinging earlier this week, when at the launch of the Jambojet livery at the Kenya Airways / Jambojet base in Embakasi he announced that the new Terminal 4 will open its doors to the travelling public on 04th of July.
Earlier this month did issues emerge over the tender award for duty free shops in the new terminal when the Kenyan Public Procurement Oversight Authority compelled the Kenya Airport Authority to re-tender for new bids, citing a violation of procurement rules. That alone may set back the full functionality of the new terminal by weeks, as the bids need evaluation, under the hawk eyes of the PPOA, selecting a winning bidder and then, considering an expected investment of at least 5 million US Dollars time to mobilise resources, create duty free shops in the designated spaces in Terminal 4 and stock them, while at the same time recruit staff and train them.
Kamau sounded buoyant when he made his announcement but reality on the ground is that the opening of the new terminal has been postponed before over procurement issues of technical equipment and over other logistical issues, from first late last year to early this year and now to mid this year.
Construction was repeatedly cited as slow and only the fire which destroyed the arrivals section of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport then brought about enough pressure on KAA and the contractors to accelerate work to accomplish an early completion.
As reported here before however it then emerged that crucially important components could not be sourced ‘off the shelves’ as some tasked with the procurements may have thought, but needed to be tailor made for Terminal 4 at a time when airport equipment manufacturers were already working flat out to deal with the demand upsurge in their sector.
Linked to the opening and full functionality of the new terminal is then the next phase of major construction when the present departure Units 1 and 2 will undergo rebuilding, refurbishment and bringing the existing buildings in line with modern building standards including state of the art fire detection and fire fighting equipment, which absence led to the catastrophic fire in August last year.
Said a regular source in response: ‘The tents have gone but travelers arriving in Nairobi still go through makeshift facilities and those are stretched to the limit of safe and orderly operations. It will only be when T 4 opens that this feeling of ‘under construction’ will be lifted. Us airline operators look forward to say two years down the line when perhaps Units 1 and 2 are shining in new colours and there is finally the space we need and which our passengers expect. The lounges for our premium passengers are not up to standards, the waiting areas for passengers are frankly pathetic and you can see people sitting on the floor because of lack of seating facilities. On the airside it is lack of parking and when all is said and done we hope there will be enough air bridges to reduce the need to use buses from aircraft to arrivals and from departure to the plane’.
It is clear that there is some skepticism about Kamau’s announcement and the main users of the airport, the airlines, will be keenly watching progress on Terminal 4 and other ongoing work, like the planned but not yet started demolition of the burned out shell of the arrivals complex and the assembly of the planned ‘temporary terminal’ which should bring further relief when finally open.
In closing quipped another regular source, who was present at the event at which Kamau spoke, in a clear mood of doubt: ‘I know all of America will see celebration fireworks on the 04th of July but if we will see them over Terminal 4 is another issue altogether. We at the airport have learned to watch and wait and I suggest you do too’. There you have it, watch this space to stay updated on future progress of the completion of the new terminal and the eventual opening date later this year.