Plans to expand Itembe Airstrip stall over failure to acquire land

The planned expansion of Itembe Airstrip has stalled following the failure by Bomet County Government to acquire 40 acres of land.

Silibwet Township Member of County Assembly Aaron Kirui, doubling up as the Chairperson for Budget committee, said that the Kenya Airports Authority had in 2018 tasked the County Government with the responsibility of securing extra 40 acres to add on the existing 13 acres, a task that it has failed to accomplish.

Speaking at a funeral in the area over the weekend, Kirui said the County Government  had found it difficult to convince the local residents to give up their land saying the KAA was now weighing options of relocating the Airstrip to Kipsonoi area.

He said the KAA officials had toured the area and made the recommendations for works to kick off saying the facility was of immense importance not only to the public but also to the locals.

He said the members of the local community who would be evicted would be justly compensated using the current market value of land.

“The locals will be allowed to tag their price on the land while valuers will give the market price so as to allow for the arrival of the most appropriate value for compensation,” he said.

“The funds for this exercise had earlier been budgeted but due to lack of meaningful agreement between the land owners and the County Government, the money had to be reallocated,” said Kirui.

The facility, he said, was of immense importance owing to the ongoing construction of a 300 bed cardio-thoracic international center in Tenwek hospital.

The MCA said Tenwek hospital management were equally concerned with what the County Government was doing in terms of fast tracking the acquisition of the land to pave way for the mega air transport route.

“This cardio-thoracic centre will be the biggest in East and Central Africa and will receive patients flying in from all over Africa. For this, among many other reasons, we need this airstrip here since it is just 7 kilometers from the hospital,” he said.

Kirui said relocating from the current site implied reducing the old airstrip to redundancy while the need for development of the area as an industrial park would become nullified.

He urged the local community to have a sensible discussion in a planned meeting to push for availing of the required land for the noble purpose to kick off.

  

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