KAA in tight spot as NEMA still has to rule on Project Greenfield approvals and mitigation measures


(Posted 14th April 2014)

While excavation works are already underway, after President Uhuru Kenyatta last December formally broke ground and launched the country’s most ambitious aviation infrastructure project ever undertaken, dubbed ‘Project Greenfield’ which includes the construction of a second runway for the country’s premier aviation hub Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi as well as the construction of a new mega terminal capable of handling up to 20 million passengers per year, news are emerging that the projects is yet to receive the thumbs up from NEMA, the National Environmental Management Authority.

NEMA has now invited the public at large to comment over a period of 30 days following which all such input will have to be co-related and interpreted before NEMA can come up with a decision. Any decision though, it is feared by aviation stakeholders, will include a range of mitigation measures which have neither been costed for under the present project package, have not been taken into account as far as a time frame for the implementation of such mitigation measures is concerned and that is all taking it for granted that NEMA will actually sanction the project, albeit with demands for changes, and not outright reject it.

What we fear the most is the almost inevitable delay this oversight is causing to the project. If KAA had done their job right the EIA review would have been undertaken at least two years ago so that any cost impact could be included in the financing package. Now, depending on how much NEMA demands in terms of changes and additional measures, it could send the project into a spin. You know very well that for instance many airlines are standing by to fly to Nairobi when the second runway boosts capacity and the new terminal finally gives us a new lease of life in Nairobi. The overcrowding has become a real issue and we are already scratching for Terminal 4 and the additional temporary terminal to get ready. If Greenfield delays over this by say a year or more, because of potential design changes and therefore the need to go back to the drawing board and redesign certain aspects of the project and then sourcing the extra money which is needed, it will be a huge setback for us here at JKIA. The worst hit might be KQ because if they are continuing their rollout of new destinations and getting so many more new aircraft, they need the space or they will be stuck between a rock and a hard place. How could that slip through at KAA I wonder. Surely no commercial project I know of breaks ground, starts to excavate and only then is the NEMA hearing taking place. They got it all wrong’ made a regular source based at JKIA his opinion known when the news broke over the weekend that public hearings will now be scheduled to take place.

Be sure to watch this space for more news on the same topic as more details become available and in particular what ultimate decision NEMA will be taking when their review is complete.

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