Information was received over the weekend that the Kenya Airport Authority has finally signed on to the contract for what is generally referred to as Project Greenfield, the planned major expansion of Nairobis Jomo Kenyatta International Airport with a second runway and a completely new terminal complex. The 55 billion Kenya Shillings project, or just under 654 million US Dollars at current rates, is set to restore East Africas main aviation hub as the undisputed airport in the region, with added capacities able to cater for traffic growth for at least two decades.
Only a day prior to a cabinet decision last Thursday to fast track the project and move with all due haste and with all stakeholders involved, had the board of KAA attempted to get a court order in a last ditch effort to have the project halted, according to reliable information at the bidding of the still in office transport minister Amos Kimunya, but had to yield when they got the cabinet directive which overruled Kimunyas stop directive and his intensive behind the scenes scheming.
In fact sections of the board of KAA and in particular the chairman now stand accused to have well near conspired with the minister to bring the project down, and the CEO of KAA along with it and pressure is growing for the chairman to step down together with his misguided loyalists on the board, now that Kimunya clearly has lost this battle. Regular pundits anticipate that should Kimunya lose his cabinet seat, his KAA board cronies too will have to pack up and go.
Meanwhile will CEO Stephen Gichuki return to his office in a more than triumphant manner, having slam dunked the chairman of the board and the minister and asserted his position, after first being locked out of his office inspite of a court order which had instructed the KAA board to lift the suspension slapped on him on August 23rd. This action is now viewed as an act of conspiracy between Kimunya and the board and further investigations into that sordid affair are likely to follow to establish if any laws were broken in the process.
Ground breaking is now anticipated later this year, performed by President Mwai Kibaki and full scale construction could begin within weeks after that.
Said a regular contributor overnight: It is time order is restored at KAA. They got enough problems as it is and the wrangles between Minister, board and CEO have disrupted a lot of work. What is important is to finish the ongoing work on the new terminal and current expansion for new parking of aircraft and a new car park to decongest JKIA and then push ahead with the new project, starting with the second runway. That is even more important for the airlines now than the new mega terminal and the airline representatives will as stakeholders give their professional opinion when the consultative meetings start. Every time there is a runway incident, all inbound and outbound flights must divert. That is costly and disruptive. A second runway will take care of such problems and keep flights going.
Recent repeated transits, arrivals and departures via JKIA by this correspondent in recent weeks also once again confirmed the level of congestion in the main terminal at rush hour periods and how very distant parking positions for aircraft are now allocated as air bridges and parking outside the domestic terminal are exhausted. Relief here cannot come soon enough, that is clear, to keep leisure and business travel to Kenya going and eventually reduce and reverse the ongoing negative publicity and ratings JKIA regularly gets from travelers and aviation observers. Watch this space to find out if there are more twists in the tail still to come.