Construction on an international airport in Nakuru was on Tuesday, December 15 commissioned at the Lanet Airstrip.
The military airstrip located at the 81Tanks Battalion barracks is set to be upgraded to full airport status at a cost of Ksh3 billion. The project is being undertaken by the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) in collaboration with the county government of Nakuru.
The first phase of the project, to be completed within 18 months, will cost Ksh2 billion. It will include an upgrade of the 1.7 kilometer runway to bitumen standards.
Several other facilities will be constructed including taxiways, a terminal building, a military lounge, air rescue and firefighting building, a power substation, a patrol road, and military and civilian gates.
The airport project has been in the works since 2013 under former Nakuru Governor Kinuthia Mbugua’s administration, when a liaison committee was set up.
It gained impetus after Lee Kinyanjui took over in 2017, with closer collaboration with the national government witnessed in recent years.
The second phase of the project will see the runway expanded from 1.7 km to 3.6 km enabling it to handle large commercial aircrafts.
From a business perspective, Nakuru will be counting on the airport to boost tourism and the fortunes of horticulture farmers.
The county is responsible for over 70% of Kenya’s cut flower exports. Transportation is, however, a challenge due to reliance on refrigerated trucks to make the 1,000 kilometre trip to Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).
The new international airport would offer manufacturers and farmers a faster option to get their goods to various destinations.
With destinations such as Lake Nakuru, Lake Naivasha and a reputation as an entertainment capital in Kenya, the county will also be looking to attract more local and international tourists with the airport.
It aligns nicely with Nakuru’s plan to receive city status. Nakuru town is on track to become Kenya’s fourth city, with the administration racing to hit various legal and infrastructural milestones.
“We are not becoming a city just by a name, but having met the requirements for such elevation. We expect to be granted the charter once the Covid-19 pandemic eases,” Njoroge Gichuhi, acting Manager of the Nakuru Municipal Board, told reporters in September.