Tuesday, June 18, 2024

How JKIA has been embarrassing Kenya as government watches helplessly

The Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) is perhaps the most important asset for Kenya. This is the first impression nearly everyone visiting Kenya for the first time grabs about this nation.

However, the JKIA has been subjected to neglect that is now manifesting in frequent embarrassing proportions.

Co-Op post

The latest episode occurred on August 25, 2023 when a nationwide blackout left the country’s largest airport in total darkness.

The blackout started at around 9.30pm and lasted for a whole night across the country, and for more than two hours at the JKIA, leaving hundreds if not thousands of travellers stranded.


Critical processes that include immigration clearances and baggage handling ground to a halt.

Apparently, the only generator at the airport refused to kick in once the blackout hit.

To save face, the government through the Ministry of Transport’s cabinet secretary Kipchumba Murkomen fired the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) managing Director Alex Gitari and the Kenya Airports Authority General Manager for Project and Engineering hours later on August 26, 2023.

The bitter truth, though, is that the JKIA has been neglected, and is now overtaken by other regional airports who take the business of travel by air seriously. One of these is the Bole International Airport in Ethiopia, which until a few years ago was a shadow in contrast to the JKIA.

B747 plane with burst tyres shuts JKIA’s only runaway for whole day

In addition, it is only recently that the JKIA subjected the country to yet another episode. The airport has only one, single runway that in April paralysed operations for nearly a whole day.

It all started in the morning hours on April 17, 2023 when a Singapore Airlines B747 cargo plan developed problems while on the runaway. The plane’s engines are reported to have caught fire, which cause eleven tyres to burst. This meant that the plane could not be towed from the runaway.

This forced the KAA to re-route planes that were schedule to land at JKIA. Planes that were scheduled to depart were delayed. This happened because since construction, the JKIA has been relying solely on one runaway.

It is not lost on Kenyans that in October 2022, Murkomen had announced that the government would revive the multi-billion JKIA Greenfield Terminal project that was canceled by the government of former president Uhuru Kenyatta, the government that Murkomen and current president Dr. William Ruto were part of.

However, there has been no news on any proposal for the construction of a second terminal ever since this ‘promise’ was made by the CS Transport.

At the same time, Kenyans traveling in and out of the country have been complaining that the JKIA has turned into a hub of corruption and harrassment. Allegedly, this has been forcing many traveling Kenyans to also budget for bribes in order to have an easy time when using the JKIA.

It goes unsaid that the deterioration of JKIA as a the finest regional airport has happened in tandem with the fall from glory of the national carrier, Kenya Airways.

In the latest embarrassing episode, “I am so sorry!” was the only comfort that CS Murkomen could offer. How long will this “Sorry” last until the airport unleashes another embarrassment? Only time will tell!

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