Government to Build Airstrip in Every County

By Bernard Munyao

The National government has embarked on a plan to build an airstrip in every county to boost local air transport, Transport Principal Secretary Irungu Nyakera has said.

Nyakera observed that the initial plan is to install portable lights in already existing airstrips to enable 24-hour operations.

Speaking during a graduation ceremony of eight pilots who were sponsored by Mathioya Constituency Development Fund (CDF), the PS said the government is committed to provide cheap and efficient air transport to all Kenyans by establishing new airstrips and rehabilitating already existing ones in counties.

He explained that by more investment in aviation industry, more employment opportunities were being created challenging youth to pursue aviation related courses to fill the job vacancies.

“Through the high investment by the government in the aviation industry, many job opportunities are coming up and by studying any course in aviation industry will enable our young people to secure jobs,” added Nyakera.

He noted that the government will use Sh. 3 billion to expand three terminals in Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) within a period of eight months adding that  another Sh. 9 billion will also be used to rehabilitate and reservice Moi International Airport in Mombasa to boost international flights.

JKIA, Nyakera said is currently handling more than 7. 5 million passengers annually from 2.5 million passengers it used to hold two years ago.

Mathioya MP Clement Wambungu who was present said the aviation industry will be a big employer in few years to come.

Nyakera lauded Mathioya CDF for sponsoring eight needy students to train as pilots saying the fee for training as a pilot is quite high for a person from a poor background to afford.

Wambungu who is a pilot by profession said the decision by the local CDF to sponsor eight students for piloting course was not wastage of resources as the newly graduated pilots will also support other youth from the area to pursue the course.

The CDF, the MP said  used almost Sh. 25 million to train the eight students until they attained commercial pilot licenses.

“The money was not paid at once but in a span of four years and the investment is worth as pilot training is very expensive for  common mwananchi. But the local CDF committee was able to identify needy qualified students to undertake the course,” added the legislator.

In Kenya, he said the number of pilots is small and those available are being absorbed by international airlines especially those from Middle East.

“Last year alone, Kenya lost 92 pilots to Qatar Airways and more may go this year and its only sponsorship like this one by Mathioya CDF where we can get new pilots coming from grassroots,” added the MP.

Announcement by Boeing Company to establish an office in Nairobi, he said was a good opportunity for those who have aviation related courses to get employment.

“The Boeing Company has also announced that it will be making 1, 150 aeroplanes annually and this indicates there will be demand for more than 10, 000 pilots per year and Kenya as a country should be in a position to provide  a good number,” he added.