Plans are underway to upgrade Embu Airstrip into a modern airport. The renovation, Governor Martin Wambora has said, will cost Sh10 billion.
Mr Wambora said his administration was working with the national government to extend the airstrip at Don Bosco and transform the airstrip to international standards.
A group of foreign investors, he said, had agreed to refurbish the airstrip for commercial purposes.
He said the Ministry of Transport was preparing a concept paper which will see the runway extended from 1.5 kilometres to four kilometres.
Mr Wambora said the airstrip was currently being used for “other purposes”.
He said the completed airport would have terminal buildings, warehouses, hangars, aprons and a free trade zone.
The Embu Airstrip is about 10 minutes South East of Embu town, along the Embu-Kiritiri Highway.
Mr Wambora said construction will begin next year, adding that the facility will ease transport and boost trade. He said the county had embraced value addition to coffee, macadamia and other agricultural produce which were now attracting international interest.
“We have received potential partners who are ready to develop it. The money will be found, they are waiting for a concept paper. We want to shift the kind of activities that are going on there to Nyaribo in Nyeri County,” he said.
He said the county government merely wanted to upgraded the airstrip but foreign investors pushed for it to be an international gateway.
“The investors said they were interested in an international airport,” the former Kenya Airports Authority chairman said.
If completed, the airport will be Kenya’s seventh international gateway after Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Mombasa’s Moi International Airport and Wajir International Airport, among others.
Boost to horticulture
Wajir airport is currently mainly used by Kenya Defence Forces while the Isiolo International Airport is awaiting official opening.
The Embu airport will be a big boost to horticulture, the county’s mainstay.
The governor also announced plans to upgrade Embu Stadium to international standards in a public-private partnership venture at Sh100 million.
He said the stadium had already consumed Sh80 million but still required further upgrading.
Mr Wambora said they were building an asphalt plant to reduce the cost of building tarmacked toads.
He said the county government had already built 18 kilometres of tarmac road and planned to complete a further 106 kilometres by the end of next year.
Mr Wambora appealed to Embu residents to invest in the county to create jobs and improve locals’ incomes.