Concerns over safety at Isiolo airport as school yet to be relocated

Tuesday May 10 2016

A plane takes off from Isiolo International

A plane takes off from Isiolo International Airport. On the right are pupils of K K Nkengecia Primary School, which is just one kilometre from the runway. The school is yet to be relocated, raising safety concerns at the airport, which will begin operations in June 2016. PHOTOS | FILE & VIVIAN JEBET | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

VIVIAN JEBET
By VIVIAN JEBET
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Serious concerns have been raised about security at Isiolo International Airport, which is expected to start operations in a month’s time.

K K Nkengecia Primary School in Tigania West Sub-County, with more than 300 pupils and 15 staff, is right inside the airport, just one kilometre from the runway, and is yet to be relocated to create a buffer zone.

The school was established in the late 1980s and sits on a 31-acre piece of land donated by the community.

But the school has not been moved, although those living around it were compensated in 2013 to pave the way for the construction of the airport.

Pupils and teachers have cut the fence to access the school after the airport's management denied them access through the main entrance.

Deputy headteacher Jackson Amburuki said the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) had initially promised to relocate the school to an alternative site but nothing happened.

“We do not know whether to close the school or to continue with learning when the airport starts operating.

STILL WAITING FOR COMPENSATION

“KAA had promised to compensate locals for the land and build new structures elsewhere but until now we are still waiting for them to honour the agreement,” said Mr Amburuki.

Mr Amburuki added that noise and air pollution from the aircraft and the ongoing construction is affecting pupils’ concentration in class.

School enrolment has gone down as pupils have opted to transfer to other schools, he added.

Mr Francis Thuranira, a member of the school’s board of management, said the institution has not received any official communication to vacate or relocate from the airport.

“If we were to relocate, the airports authority should compensate the school and construct new classrooms,” said Mr Thuranira.

Isiolo Girls Secondary School and Little Angels Academy are also located near the airport.

A boda boda rider carrying a teacher from K K

A boda boda rider carrying a teacher from K K Nkengecia Primary School passes through a gap in the fence at Isiolo International Airport. The airport's management denied those going to the school access through the main entrance. PHOTO | VIVIAN JEBET | NATION MEDIA GROUP

HASTEN RELOCATION

Tigania West MP David Karithi said the KAA should hasten the relocation to ensure learning is not affected as the airport commences operations in the next four weeks.

“There is no way the airport will start operations when the school is inside and close to the runway. KAA should relocate the institution first and fast,” said the legislator.

Last week, KAA Managing Director Yatich Kangugo, who led an assessment crew made up of aeronautical and structural engineers, said the Sh2.7 billion airport will begin operations in June 2016.

During the inspection, the MD said those affected had earlier been compensated while others will be relocated once plans by the National Land Commission are finalised.

The airport is part of Vision 2030 flagship projects and is expected to promote growth and unlock the economic potential of northern Kenya and neighbouring counties.