Shipping & Logistics

North Rift counties see Eldoret Airport becoming cargo hub

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Uasin Gishu County Governor Jackson Mandago. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • North Rift counties are keen to transform the Eldoret International Airport into cargo hub as they seek to export more agricultural produce from the region.
  • Mr Mandago said Eldoret town is a crucial economic hub for the North Rift and a gateway to East Africa, and hence it has a huge potential for growth in the air travel business.

North Rift counties are keen to transform the Eldoret International Airport into cargo hub as they seek to export more agricultural produce from the region.

North Rift Economic Bloc chairman and Uasin Uasin Gishu county governor Jackson Mandago said the county governments look to partner with the Kenya Airport Authority to expand the airport to accommodate more local and international flights and boost its cargo capacity.

“This is airport is increasingly becoming more commercially viable by making it a cargo hub in the western region. As a region, we are keen to tap on this to increase revenue and improve livelihoods in the region,” said Mr Mandago.

The governor spoke when the East African Safari Air launched its flight operations on the Nairobi-Eldoret-Lodwar route. The airline will have three weekly flights in the new route, as regional flights scramble for a piece of the local aviation industry.

Other airlines operating on the route are Skyward Express, Fly Jambojet and its sister airline Fly 540 on the Nairobi - Eldoret Route while Skyward Express and Fly 540 operate on the Nairobi -Eldoret–Lodwar.

Mr Mandago said Eldoret town is a crucial economic hub for the North Rift and a gateway to East Africa, and hence it has a huge potential for growth in the air travel business.

“Eldoret hosts a number of government institutions such as the Kenya Pipeline Company and most fuel for countries like Rwanda and Uganda is sourced here. We also have many business persons leaving Eldoret to Entebbe almost daily which is an opportunity for business growth,” he observed.

Governor Mandago noted that there are intra-county opportunities and export of local agricultural produce for the local and regional airlines.

“We also have a huge business potential locally if we make travels easy by opening up flights to towns like Kitale, Nakuru and Eldoret and this will reduce time taken to travel,” he said.

He also noted that there is need for the Eldoret International Airport to be expanded and equipped to support more cargo flights to handle more fresh produce like flowers.

North Rift counties boast unexploited tourism potential and the region has been laying strategies to woo more local and international tourists. For instance, Turkana is considered the cradle of the mankind and is endowed with the untapped natural resources such as white sand beaches.

The North Rift economic bloc, formed in 2015, brings together eight counties — Uasin Gishu, West Pokot, Baringo, Turkana, Samburu, Nandi, Elgeyo-Marakwet and Trans Nzoia.

East African Safari Air Managing Director, George Kivindyo said the Nairobi-Eldoret-Lodwar flight seeks, to among others, promote trade between the two counties of Uasin Gishu and Turkana.

“There is a lot of business between Eldoret and Lodwar. It will also promote intercultural relationship between the communities,” Mr Kivindyo disclosed.

The Kenya Airports Authority General Marketing and Business Development, Jimmy Kibati said the launch of inaugural flights was a sign of confidence on the aviation industry amid Covid-19 restrictions.