State revives project to build modern terminal

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2023 08:30 | By
Kenya has revived plans to have a state-of-the-art terminal at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport by 2027.
Kenya has revived plans to have a state-of-the-art terminal at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport by 2027. PHOTO/Print

Kenya has revived the plan to have a state-of-the-art terminal at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) by 2027, seven years after the initial project was suddenly discontinued.

The multi-billion-shilling project, initially projected to cost $650 million or Sh59 billion (using currency rates as of December 2013), is back on the cards, in what aims to decongest the region’s busiest hub.

The airport serves close to nine million passengers annually, up from the two million it served when constructed in 1978. The proposed upgrade could see the airfield handle up to 30 million passengers in four years if those strategies finally pay off.

Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) chair Caleb Kositany announced on Sunday that the government will in January 2024 break ground for the construction on the new terminal, noting that it will be a game changer in the East African region.

Public-private partnership

“As a board we want to do it as quickly as possible and within the law. We will be identifying a contractor soon. It will be an open tender and it will most likely be a public-private partnership (PPP), so that we get a good delivery or rather a new terminal,” said Kositany.

He disclosed that the authority has also commenced search for a new chief executive following the termination of the contract of its immediate former managing director, Alex Gitari and called on eligible Kenyans and non-Kenyans to apply for the hot seat.

Kositany spoke when Asky airlines, a pan-African air company launched the Nairobi route through JKIA, as part of its growth strategy to enhance connectivity in West, Central and Southern Africa.

The Togolese airline will initially have three flights weekly on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from JKIA to its hub in Lome – Togo, connecting all Ecowas countries, Central Africa including Johannesburg and Luanda in Angola, from October 1. We are starting with three or four times flights a week but soon it will be a daily flight to Nairobi,” said Captain Whib Seif Abebe, ASky head of flight.

The new terminal upgrades will include the parking space for both cargo and passenger spaces for aircrafts, with similar plans earmarked for Mombasa, Kisumu and Eldoret airports. The first phase of the new terminal had originally been due to be completed this year, although construction has not yet started.

New terminal facilities at JKIA over the past three years have increased its handling capacity to 7.5 million passengers a year, against demand of 6.5 million last year, which has led to inefficiencies and breakdowns, which the government hopes to change in the next 4 years.

Kenya had in 2016 scrapped plans for a new terminal building at Nairobi’s main airport due to financial pressures and excess capacity caused by upgrades to existing facilities at the time.

Former President Uhuru Kenyatta launched the $650 million terminal project for JKIA in December 2013.

China’s Anhui Construction and China National Aero-Technology International Engineering Corporation (Catic) which had been selected to build the terminal – initially expected to handle 20 million passengers a year.

Boost the capacity

But, with the revived plans, it seeks to boost the capacity to handle up to 30 million passengers by 2030.

“We want to move to 30 million a year...but it will be subject to the expression we are going to put forward an evaluation process and capacity for us to attract a good investment, and I hope in the next three years or so before 2027 we will have a new terminal,” said Transport CS Kipchumba Murkomen in June this year.

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