- The planned expansion of Malindi International Airport is set to start after the State allocated Sh5 billion for the project.
- This comes as a big boost for tourism, especially in the North Coast, which has remained in the doldrums for a while now.
- The project has stalled for 18 years due to compensation wrangles between landowners and government affecting the tourism haven frequented by international tourists, especially Italians.
The planned expansion of Malindi International Airport is set to start after the State allocated Sh5 billion for the project. This comes as a big boost for tourism, especially in the North Coast, which has remained in the doldrums for a while now.
The project has stalled for 18 years due to compensation wrangles between landowners and government affecting the tourism haven frequented by international tourists, especially Italians.
The National Development Implementation Technical Committee (NDITC) said the project is ready to take off after the government set aside funds to compensate the landowners who will be affected by the project.
“A lot of tourists coming from Europe would like to have their planes landing here but the kind of aircraft that come in with tourists from those countries usually require a long span of runaway. The current runaway is about 1.4km but for larger planes to land here requires an additional 2km,” said Susan Mochache, who is an official at NDITC.
North Coast tourism sector suffered a major slump due to the pandemic after the international market was affected.
Ms Mochache who is also the Health principal secretary said the expansion of the runway will allow larger planes and cargo flights to land in Malindi to boost tourism and business in general.
“We can thereafter adequately land the kind of aircraft that will bring in the number of tourists we are looking at and the size of cargo aircraft that would like to land here but are limited by runway,” she added.
The Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers official, Dr Sam Ikwaye said the airport upgrade will ease accessibility of the region by tourists.
“Accessibility is an important factor in the revival of tourism in North Coast. But we have been having a challenge in Malindi as tourists are forced to land in Mombasa before connecting to Malindi which has been cumbersome due to traffic snarl-up,” Dr. Ikwaye said.
The direct flights landing in Malindi, he noted will serve the environs and further increase the value of investments and properties as prices will go up.
“Auxiliary services like agriculture and other utilities that depend on a functioning airport will be attracted to the area. The area has an extensive agricultural sector which will boost cargo business at the airport,” said Dr Ikwaye.
Ms Mochahe cited land acquisition as the biggest challenge in airport expansion plan.
“There is land that we need to acquire for Kenya Airport Authority. We have managed to acquire some part of it where this terminal is built and compensation was given to the landowners. But we now have a budget of Sh5 billion to expand the runaway,” she said.
The government, Ms Mochache said, will fast-track access to the money so that the compensation can be undertaken and the land acquired.
However, the PS warned the landowners against developing their lands.
“I urge the people to limit development. They know there is an intention by the government to develop that land and there’s no point of developing it yet we are now almost at the point where we are almost confident that compensation will be done,” she added.
Ms Mochache said expansion and development of the airport are crucial to meet the demand of tourists who want to visit the area.
The airport manager Mohammed Karama urged the state to speed up the compensation to kick-start the project.
“Our consultant has already conducted environmental impact assessment and further came up with reallocation action plan which was forwarded and approved by the National Environmental Management Authority to start the project,” said he said.
He said the more they delay, the more the project’s value will increase.
“We don’t encourage any development to be continued in the area, kindly halt them to give us an easy time,” he added.