Kenyan taxpayers will foot a Sh80 million bill to move a primary school that sits on an area earmarked for the expansion of an Isiolo Airport runway to international standards.
Transport Secretary James Macharia yesterday told Parliament the project required acquisition of land belonging to K.K Nkengechia Primary school in Meru County.
Preliminary estimates by the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) put the total cost of moving the school at Sh74.65 million. Such facilities as classrooms, administration block, library, kitchen and stores, furniture, fence, gate and water storage tanks are set to come down for the runway.
“Since the estimates were done before June 2015, the KAA has allowed for inflation and therefore requested for Sh 80 million from the government in the 2016/17 financial year,” Mr Macharia told Parliament’s Transport Committee.
The KAA embarked on expansion of Isiolo Airport through extension of its runway and construction of an apron in Phase 1 of the project which was completed and commissioned in February 2013.
Phases 2 and 3 are ongoing with full completion and commissioning of the works expected by the end of the year.
The two phases include building of a passenger terminal, associated offices and pavements (apron and access road).
As a result of the planning, the KAA fenced off the erstwhile convenient access and entry points of the school.
This has compelled parents of K.K Nkengechia Primary School to escort their children to school with most pupils having to trek for several kilometres daily to access the school.
Half of the runway extends deep into Meru county, which has led to demolition of several buildings and structures surrounding the airport.
The period before construction works commence is estimated to be six months including two months for architectural and engineering drawings as well as preparation of the Bills of Quantities.
The remaining four months will be for tender action, evaluations and preparation as well as signing of the contract. Construction will take up to 15 months.
Relocation of the school and compensation thereof has been a bone of contention between the school’s management, the KAA and the Ministry of Transport.
This led the residents of Tigania West Constituency to petition Parliament to compel the ministry and the KAA to rebuild the school to ensure uninterrupted learning.
Tigania West MP David Karithi in March presented to the National Assembly the petition from pupils and parents demanding adequate compensation.
The residents have donated 15 acres of land situated in Rwanda location where they hope the school will be moved.
Mr Macharia said he was not in a position to ascertain availability of the land since the KAA was not in possession of the ownership documents.
This is, however, being pursued by way of approved part development plan for the proposed new site, letter of allotment from the county government and National Land Commission, letter from the county education office to ascertain school ownership status and survey plan of the new site.