Africa: Kenya Aviation officials in trouble for failed new Kakamega airstrip

Kakamega airstrip

Parliament wants the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) and the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) to punish officers who misrepresented facts and allowed overweight aircraft to operate on the weak Kakamega airstrip.

The National Assembly’s Transport Committee said the KAA and KCAA officers were responsible for the alleged misreporting of the runway’s Pavement Classification Number (PCN) as 10 instead of seven by the Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP).

“In response to prayers by the petitioners (Kakamega residents), the committee recommends that KAA and or KCAA officers responsible for the alleged misreporting…be held personally liable for damages caused on the newly rehabilitated but barely used runway, since by misreporting facts, aircraft with Aircraft Classification Number (ACN) above the pavement’s surface strength of the Pavement Classification Number 7 were allowed to operate on the weak airstrip,” the committee said in the report tabled last week.

“The actual PCN value of the runway rehabilitated in 2011 was rated as seven but was reported as 10 by the Aeronautical Information Publication.

“However, the source of information and motive behind the grave misreporting by AIP was unclear,” the report says.

The committee investigated a petition filed by Kakamega residents through Ikolomani MP Bernard Shinali asking Parliament to inquire into the quality of the resurfacing works done on the airstrip’s pavement in 2011.

The petitioners wanted MPs to ascertain whether the reported failures were occasioned by poor workmanship and intervene to ensure that the Ministry of Transport rehabilitates and extends the airstrip’s pavements to International Civil Aviation Organisation standards.

In its report to the House, the committee chaired by Starehe MP Maina Kamanda said the rehabilitated runway was uneven and dilapidated to the extent that deep depressions had developed mainly along the path used by rear wheels of the aircraft during taxing, take-off and landing.
“This cast doubts to the quality of works done by the contractor who undertook the resurfacing of the runway,” the committee said.

The Kamanda-led committee has recommended the allocation of funds to extend the runway by 800 metres and construction of suitable facilities for envisioned modern airstrip.

The Treasury has allocated Sh200 million in the year starting July for rehabilitation of Kakamega airstrip.

An earlier study by KAA experts indicated that Kakamega Airstrip urgently needed its 1.2 kilometre runway rehabilitated and expanded to two kilometers, enabling it to accommodate larger planes.

“The committee recommends that the Ministry of Land and National Land Commission intervenes to support Kakamega county government by fast tracking the process of acquisition of land, resettlement and compensation of families whose land is earmarked for expansion of the airstrip,” Mr Kamanda said.

Flights to Kakamega Airstrip have on several occasions been cancelled owing to the poor condition of the runway which air operators said posed risks to passengers and cabin crews.


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