Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen has lauded the pace of the ongoing rehabilitation and expansion of Kerenga Airstrip in Kericho, saying it will be completed well in time for the Mashujaa Day celebrations.
He said infrastructure is an enabler of development and that his Ministry will do all it can to open up Kenya for investment.
“The present expansion will facilitate the airstrip to accommodate aircraft carrying up to 37 passengers, but eventually, we will expand it further to take the number up to 60 passengers,” Mr Murkomen said.
The CS spoke when he assessed the ongoing work at the airstrip that will cater for guests arriving for the Mashujaa Day celebrations to be held at Kericho Green Stadium on October 20.
“I am very happy that the first phase of the construction work will be completed before Mashujaa Day. We shall soon embark on phase two that will entail the paving and expansion of the runway from the current 1.2kms to 2kms.
“Already, we are in talks with Ekaterra Tea Company to fast-track the process of land acquisition and allow the issuance of operation license, expansion of works and the construction of a modern terminal building,” he told journalists in Kericho.
The CS, who was accompanied by Kericho Governor Erick Mutai and Belgut Member of Parliament Nelson Koech, also inspected the ongoing paving of 10 kilometres of roads in Kericho town that he said will facilitate access to markets, factories, schools, the local stadium, and other social amenities.
“The ring roads will ease access to the stadium during the celebrations, but the remainder of the work will be completed shortly thereafter. We are also ensuring that there are proper walkways to enhance non-motorized transport,” he noted.
The CS told off those criticized the facility after the military airplane in which the First Lady Rachel Ruto flew to Kericho for the International Girl Child event, appeared to struggle to take off due to heavy rains pounding the gravel runway.
“I am excited to note that the test-landing and take-off was successful and our First Lady Mama Rachel Ruto became the first person to land and take off from the airstrip yesterday,” the CS said.
“The dream of Kerenga Airstrip has been a long-time wish for Kericho residents, and it will undoubtedly enhance transportation in the region,” he added.
Mr Murkomen said Government intends to upgrade the Airstrip into a fully-fledged airport within the next two years.
He said his Ministry is implementing the National Aviation Policy, whose objective is to open up Kenya’s airspace and attract more investment, thus creating jobs and growing the economy.
Since coming to office last year, the Kenya Kwanza administration has rehabilitated and expanded airstrips across the country. They include aerodromes in Homa Bay, Migori, Kitale and Garissa.
Construction of 12 other airstrips across the country is ongoing.
He further explained, “Kerenga wasn’t part of the 12 ongoing airstrip projects. It was done in an emergency manner, but under the directive of the President, we have achieved something magnificent.”
He said construction of such aerodromes will facilitate fast movement of people and goods, promotion of tourism, access to emergency medical services and economic growth.