KAA must recover grabbed airport land

Wednesday March 14 2018

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Fresh revelations that the Kenya Airports Authority has no titles for five top airports across the country is alarming. Something is not adding up and it raises real concern about the safety of public assets.

In fact, the revelations made before Parliament’s Public Investment Committee (PIC) may just be the tip of iceberg. More other assets may have been lost and yet nobody is talking about them.

As we publish elsewhere in this edition, the airports in question are Kisumu, Eldoret, Wilson, Ukunda and Manda.

Even more perplexing is that titles for Eldoret and Wilson are in the custody of private lawyers, who are understood to be using them to prepare sub-leases of airport land.

Worse, it transpires that a private firm had used one of KAA’s titles to secure a Sh500 million loan from a bank.

Titles cannot just disappear. Previous managers know where the titles are or what happened to them.

And we have every reason to be incensed when we are told that some titles were handed over to third parties to facilitate other transactions, meaning they are being used to benefit private individuals.

For starters, airports like other public facilities, have lost huge chunks of land to private individuals under dubious circumstances.

Wilson Airport, for example, has lost so much land and is now surrounded by all sorts of private structures that threaten the safety of aircraft.

What remains of a once-expansive airport is a minute facility that cannot expand to meet the demands of increasing air traffic. At one time, some shameless wheeler-dealers eyeing the airport’s land even suggested that it be relocated altogether.

As directed by the PIC, those involved in the dubious deals that saw KAA cede its titles must be brought to book.

KAA’s managing director Jonny Andersen and his team must not only secure the titles for these airports but also work with the Lands ministry to audit and give a proper account of all land belonging to other airports and airstrips across the country.

Assuring the public that all is well and that the land will not be lost is not enough.