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Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Multi-million airstrip project raise eyebrows

By James Maina

About one mile off Kinamba-Sipili –Maralal Road lies an old airstrip which was last used in 1960s.It seats on a 5 ha piece of land. The landing strip is just along the road and is frequently used by vehicles as an alternative route considering the poor state of the main road. Not many people know the function and relevance of this facility.  Very few ever witnessed its utility. For the few who ever saw it functioning they only have very glimpse memories of former colonial masters and politicians using it.

Landing strip under rehabilitation currently being used as alternative road.
Recently, the airstrip has been rehabilitated. It is said that the work was done through the funding by Laikipia West CDF, a region under Hon. Nderitu Mureithi. The rehabilitation was launched on August 2012 & over 15 million Kenya shillings were dedicated to this project.

The project has however raised eyebrows in the area. Many people are questioning the timing and funding of the project. LRV found out that there is general dissatisfaction among the residents. They question why the project had to be revived towards a general election. Was there a plan in the first place to use CDF in the project? Who is the contractor and when was tender was advertised?

Mr. Ware Mania a farmer hailing nearby told LRV that he woke up one morning only to see an excavator busy moving the earth. No project billboard was ever erected as this has been the formality. “The contractor himself is not known to us yet we should know’’, said Mr. Ware. He pointed out a case of the rehabilitation of Nyahururu-Ndindika road. “The ministry of roads through Kenya Highways Authority (KenHa) called for tenders and was won by Equaline Suppliers & We are surprised with this one drawing money from CDF kitty.”           

Windsock in the landing strip
An investigation done by LRV revealed mixed signals from residents of the larger Ng’arua area. Some saw it as a noble development activity in the region. They said that the area can now access air-transport and make them market their produce easily.

 Others are still of the view that this was another white elephant meant to fleece tax payers off their money. According to Mr. Kabuchia, a local businessman in Kinamba town, residents in Ng’arua have not yet reached such high levels of using air-transport since many are low-class and middle class citizens.  “For now they need better and meaningful development activities like putting tarmac on Sipili-Kinamba road. This is mockery of the highest order,” quipped Mr. Kabuchia.

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