Investors have renewed a push for construction of the proposed Nakuru airport more than five years since it was mooted, saying the facility will boost flower exports and tourism in the county.
Currently, flower firms rely on refrigerated trucks to ferry produce to Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), more than 100 kilometres away for export.
The idea to construct an airport in Nakuru was conceived in 2011 when the 600 acre piece of land in Pipeline was acquired for the project.
Sh250 million was then allocated by the government for preparatory work in the 2011/2012 financial year.
Plans by the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) of building the facility were abandoned at the 11th hour, after the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) declined to approve the project on grounds that the land lay along flamingos’ migratory route.
Efforts to reach KCAA and KAA officials over the status of the project have been futile as text messages and mails sent to them go unanswered.
A business caucus in Nakuru led by their spokesperson, Mr Shadrack Koskei, says delay in implementing the project is among factors slowing down growth of horticulture, tourism and flowers sectors in the region.
They now want incoming governor Lee Kinyanjui to liaise with the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA), the air transport regulator, the Kenya Airports Authority, which is mandated to provide airport infrastructure and other stakeholders to bring the project to light.
“Flower farmers in Naivasha will have a chance exploit the huge market by increasing their exports to Europe and the United States. The airport will also make it easier for the county to receive hordes of international tourists,” said Mr Koskei in an interview with the Sunday Nation.
“We need the airport for economic prosperity of this county,” said Mr James Mwamba one of the investors.
Nakuru County is famed for production of close to 70 per cent of Kenya’s flower exports and also for its tourism and agricultural activities.
Examples of popular tourism sites include Lake Nakuru National Park, Hells Gate National Park Lake Naivasha, Menengai Crater and Lord Egerton Castle among others.