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Roba blames external stakeholders for causing airport row

Mandera Governor Ali Roba Monday accused “external stakeholders” of causing a protracted dispute over construction of an airport in Karo, Mandera East.

The County chief said these individuals are not residents of Karo. He told KNA that area residents were consulted and approved the airstrip late in 2017 giving the county authorities the basis upon which to plan for the airport.

There has been a long dispute between residents of Karo in Mandera East and the county government over construction of a modern airport. The current airstrip in Mandera is too small.

Residents have lodged a complaint at the Milimani Court in Nairobi demanding any development on the land stopped.

They fear being displaced and their way of life disrupted as the airport will occupy a big chunk of their grazing land. They also cite lack of public participation in the decision making process.

Roba said his administration in consultation with leaders and residents will, however, address the concerns soon.

“All Mandera town residents agree there is an urgent need for an airstrip. The challenges from some stakeholders will be resolved amicably through dialogue,” Roba said.

He said the runway at the current airstrip is worn out and is less than one kilometre long. It is also situated in a congested residential area, posing risks to passengers and residents. “The aircraft operating in and out of the Mandera airstrip is not type-certified to operate from airstrips of such conditions,” Roba, himself a pilot, said.

“If a take-off was to be aborted as a result of a technical or runway incursions, it would not be possible to bring the aircraft to a complete stop safely because of the runway length,” the governor said.

Roba described as “false reports” that Wargadud airport was also rejected.
“The community of Wargadud, where an international airport was to be built, approved the land and construction only aborted as a result of litigation by our own contractors. The case led to redirection of the funds elsewhere, after over one-and-half years of court battle,” Roba said.

By Dickson Githaiga

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