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Maasai Mara airstrip set to undergo Sh4.7bn upgrade

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Wildebeest crossing shallow waters of Sand River into the Maasai Mara game reserve. FILE PHOTO

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Summary

  • The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) plans to start the rehabilitation of Angama (Olkurruk) Airstrip situated in the western part of the Maasai Mara Game Reserve.
  • The construction works, to be done in three phases, will cost the aviation agency about Sh4.7 billion. The rehabilitation of the airstrip will be done by Ongata Works Limited.
  • Part of the rehabilitation works involves expansion of the existing 1260m long runway and increasing the width from 18m to 23m. Runway edge markers will also be repainted and and roads expanded.

The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) plans to start the rehabilitation of Angama (Olkurruk) Airstrip situated in the western part of the Maasai Mara Game Reserve.

The construction works, to be done in three phases, will cost the aviation agency about Sh4.7 billion. The rehabilitation of the airstrip will be done by Ongata Works Limited.

Part of the rehabilitation works involves expansion of the existing 1260m long runway and increasing the width from 18m to 23m. Runway edge markers will also be repainted and and roads expanded.

KAA Managing Director Alex Gitari said the rehabilitation of the existing facility will promote aviation safety, security and generate revenue for the agency.

“The airport will open up the Mara Tourism Circuit and hence facilitate the implementation of the Maasai Mara Strategy. The construction will reduce the environmental impact on off road driving towards the Mara hence low negative impact on forest, wildlife areas and wetlands,” said Mr Gitari.

Maasai Mara adjoins the Serengeti National Park of Tanzania, from where millions of wildlife travel to Maasai Mara.

The migration is one of the biggest wildlife events on earth and thousands of people g visit to see it.

Every year over 300,000 tourists visit the Mara to witness migration of the wildebeest.

“The expansion comes with the benefit of controlling Carbon emission due to reduced motor vehicles accessing the region,” he said.

“The Maasai Mara Reserve is one of the most used reserves in Kenya for off-road driving.”

The average flying distance from Angama Mara Airstrip to Nairobi via Wilson Airport or JKIA is about 200 km and will take around one hour.

Reduction of carbon footprint within the Maasai Mara drive as the aircraft will carry many passengers and manage the number of vehicles driving across the country to Mara.

The Airstrip is planned to be upgraded to accommodate larger aircrafts and International flights in the long run.

The biggest aircraft operating at the Airstrip is a Bombardier Dash 8-106, with a 37 passenger seat capacity.

Proposed critical aircraft as Airbus A320, with 170-180 passenger capacity by the end of Phase III.