Investors are taking positions to gain from the projects planned for Isiolo town under the Vision 2030 development blueprint, with the rehabilitation of the airstrip attracting developers for residential and leisure facilities.
Vision 2030 board member Peter Gakunu said ample land in Isiolo and Nyambene towns had attracted proposals for establishment of resort centres by private developers.
“As the rehabilitation of the Airport progresses, investors are angling themselves to erect houses and hotels as well as other recreation facilities,” he said.
So intense is the land speculation in the area that within two years a quarter piece of land has jumped from Sh15, 000 to Sh150, 000.
The opening up of the area, which is earmarked to be a resort city in the Las Vegas mould under the Vision 2030, will enhance other sectors such as agriculture, banking, housing and art work. The resort centre will be complete with casinos, international filming facilities and all the trappings of lavish living money can buy. The upgrading work on the airstrip involves expansion of the runway, building of taxiways, aprons, passenger terminus and cargo terminus.
Other amenities include parking areas, a fire station, meteorological centre, hangar, control tower and staff quarters. The airport is expected to be fully operational by March next year. It is being built by Kundan Singh Construction at a cost of Sh610 million.
Vision 2030 has identified Isiolo as a gateway to realising economic fortunes for the arid northern Kenya.
Isiolo is part of the northern tourism circuit and is centrally placed between some major parks, which include Meru National Park, Samburu National Reserve, Shaba Game Reserve, Kora National Park, Mwingi National Reserve and the Bisanadi National reserve.
To the north of Isiolo are the Marsabit National Reserve and Sibiloi National Park.
Currently, the town has very few tourism facilities which include the Sarova Shaba located in the Shaba Game Reserve and Buffalo Springs lodges located in the Samburu National Reserve.
Building of the 501km Isiolo-Moyale highway, which links Kenya to Ethiopia is currently ongoing with 136km from Isiolo to Merelle so far complete. Also in the radar is building of a railway line, pipeline and highway linking Kenya and Juba in Southern Sudan.
Once complete, the airport is expected to link Isiolo town to Mombasa, Nairobi and Kisumu. It is also expected to decongest Wilson airport by moving the miraa (Khat) trade aircraft to Isiolo.
The 1.4 kilometre runway will handle heavy commercial aircraft with a load weight of up to 66 tonnes.
The government is yet to compensate 400 families that were displaced by the Airstrip rehabilitation project despite making a promise of Sh200 million to them.
Some of the land has fallen prey to speculators, who have subdivided it and sold to unsuspecting investors.