Arch. Fred Odawo, an architect with undergraduate training in Architecture and further training in airport engineering and  currently the General Manager for Projects and Engineering Services at Kenya Airports Authority spoke to us about the Authority and the re-habilitation works at Moi International Airport in Mombasa.

Brief on KAAs mandate …

KAA was established in 1991 under CAP 3, 95. Our mandate basically is development, maintenance and operations of public aerodromes in Kenya. As a function, there are nine departments and one semi department in KAA. Projects and Engineering services is one of the departments and that’s where I’m the general manager.  And of course given our mandate of development and maintenance of airstrips that is what we do in our department.

What is KAAs strategy … 

Basically it’s in terms of planning for the same, designing towards world class standards in terms of ICAO and FAA(Federal Aviation Administration) standards  in terms of design and development of our facilities, essentially the pavements and of course our processing facilities at the terminal buildings.

We undertake a national airport system plan studies every five years, unfortunately we have not had one since 2010 because of some constrains and challenges we are faced. But the study is coming on board and this is what will guide the development of our facilities for the next 20 years reviewed every five years and guided by our strategic plan.

Challenges …

The major challenge we’ve faced is capacity in terms of numbers we have very few aviation or airport engineers and their replacement hasn’t been as seamless as you’d wish it to be. Secondly, we are in a much focused environment of airport engineering which unfortunately is not taught in Kenya. We need expertise which we can only gather from outside the country. So normally we take our people for training in Singapore.

Efforts in place for training of aviation specialists locally…    

Aviation is wide. We have safety, security, operations, engineering and much more. Kenya Civil Aviation Authority has got a training school that trains people for part of the industry needs. KAA also has a training school which is accredited but not for the very specialized courses like engineering. If you go to Singapore for Airport Engineering training, what they take you through is not available in Kenya. We have had some discussions regarding this but because there is not enough expertise locally to train those who might be interested we have to unfortunately take them out of the country.

Rehabilitation project at the Moi International Airport…

The last major rehabilitation project that happened at Moi International Airport was in the early 90s and so it has been long overdue in terms of what we needed to put in place for the safe operations of the facility. We have a runway which is about 3.36 KM long and 0.045KM wide which needs an overhaul. We are going to have the entire runway rehabilitated. Other than rehabilitating the runway, the taxiway and the parking bay we are also addressing a challenge with the size of the airport in terms of drainage. We have seen sinkholes resulting from failure of the drainage system which is also being addressed. We are also putting in place a mechanism to collect runoff water and part of the project is to put up four underground tanks.

Funding of the rehabilitation project

The project total cost is KSH 7.008 Billion. The funding is threefold.  One is FAD which is France Agency for development. FAD is funding it to the tune of USD 65 Million which translates to KSh 6.5 Billion. Consultancy services offered by Yassin and APEC are being funded by the World Bank to the tune of KSH 90 Million (USD 900,000). The balance of that is being funded by Kenya Airports Authority for the works.

Project impact on potential and Capacity

This airport can handle up to 2 million passenger per year. We handled just about 1.4 million in the last year. That means we are not congested. In terms of what the project brings on board, we have not reached peak in terms of usage but the upcoming National Airport plan study will tell us what and when to put in place to address future capacity challenges.

Safety and security measures practiced at MIA

We are regulated both international by ICAO and Locally by KCAA and we are audited annually. Whatever audit findings that are recommended are addressed as and when they must be addressed. We have some challenges of course which are identified through those audits and which we address. We also regularly undertake emergency drills just to understand what shortcomings we may be facing which are then addressed.

The Solar at the Gate solar project and its impact at MIA

This project was financed by ICAO and Kenya Airports Authority. Our financing bit was paying taxes to the tune of about KSH 24 Million. The projects brings onboard about 0.5MW while our usage is 0.8MW which means this project easily cuts our power usage by more than 50%. Secondly it is a sustainable way for us to undertake operations and environmentally friendly while at it.

The project is currently on 5 acres we have more land set aside for us for future expansion of the project. We have also set aside 100 hectares of land bordering Katani estate in Nairobi for a similar project for Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. In October this year at TICAD 7 which is happening in Japan we are sending an Engineer with the prospect of engaging the Japanese government in terms of developing this project. Way back in 2012 we engaged the US government in terms of having a consultancy service for the same. Even though they did not come on board, it is something we have been considering for some time now. Our usage at JKIA is just above 8MW with a monthly bill of just above KSH 50 Million which is very expensive. So we believe this project will help us reduce cost in terms of running the operations at JKIA. This is one of the things we intend to achieve within the next five years.

Outlook and future of the aviation industry in Kenya     

There is growth in this industry. Our contribution to Kenyas GDP is about 2% growing annually. We have plans to grow the industry in a sustainable manner. There are two main things we want to address as an industry with other stake holders; one is to put in place an airstrips policy which will indicate how we need to develop our airports and airstrips in a sustainable manner especially after developing these facility how do we maintain them and run their operations in terms of growing the number of aircrafts flying in and out of them, what level of personnel do we have to put in place to run this airports and who is to run them. Is it the county government or KAA?  Secondly we will have in place an aviation policy which will be driven by the ministry of transport. This will help us identify the level of support and development that needs to go into each of the aerodromes that we have in the country.

So we are going to see growth but in a more defined manner midwifed by the sector stakeholders.


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