The ongoing construction of cargo sheds and extension of the Isiolo Airport runway from the current 1.4 kilometres to 2.5 kilometres will ease transportation of Miraa from the neighbouring Meru County as well as other highly perishable fresh farm produce.
Addressing journalists at the Airport when he led a delegation of government officials, Kenya Airports Authority officials and members of the Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya to inspect the progress of the project which is part of the Lamu Port South Sudan and Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor, government Spokesman Rtd. Col. Cyrus Oguna said that completion of the remaining works will put the largely idle facility to good use, with cargo flights expected to operate from the Isiolo Airport on a daily basis
Oguna said that apart from reducing the amount of time used to transport perishable products to Nairobi via road, the move will also avert accidents caused by speedy vehicles especially those ferrying miraa to Wilson airport.
He reiterated the government’s commitment to ensure faster completion of the remaining works in order to revitalize the facility which will, in turn, open up the northern Kenya region for business and grow the local economy.
The Acting General manager, Business and Development at the Kenya Airports Authority Jacob Werner said that being at the centre of Kenya, the facility in Isiolo is the most strategically positioned airport among all the network of airports under Kenya Airports Authority, and its full operationalization will revolutionize transport of goods and people within and outside the country.
Werner noted that the airport will enable exploitation of East and Central Africa, with the Kenya Airports Authority embarking on rehabilitation of various infrastructural structures including the runway and cargo sheds that will ease transportation of the fresh produce.
He said that the cargo sheds are expected to be completed by the end of the month of September while the runway extension from 1.4 to 2.5 Kilometres is expected to be completed by the end of December this year, paving way for the beginning of flights in January 2022.
According to Werner, completion of the Isiolo Abattoir will also necessitate the construction of cold rooms to ensure proper handling and transportation of meat and meat products, especially for export.
The cargo sheds being constructed have the capacity to handle at least 10 tonnes of luggage per day and will cost Ksh 20 Million.
Apart from Miraa from Meru, the facility is also expected to handle flowers from the flower farms in Meru and Laikipia counties, horticultural crops as well as meat and meat products from Isiolo and Northern Kenya Counties.
The CEO, Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya Okisegere Ojapat challenged the government to fast track the completion of the remaining works in order to allow swift movement of fresh produce from the region to Nairobi and even for export.
He said that the consortium is in the business of expanding the market for the fresh produce industries, with Kenya already exporting about 4% of what she produces but looking to see that grow to between 10% to 15% of the total produced.
He argued that the only way to see this achieved is through operationalization of the Isiolo Market, which will allow farmers from Isiolo, Meru, Laikipia, Nyeri and other neighbouring counties to export their products through the Isiolo Airport.
The Isiolo International Airport whose construction cost the taxpayer in excess of Ksh 3.1 Billion and was officially opened by President Uhuru Kenyatta on 23rd July 2017 has largely failed to live up to its expectations, with some airlines beginning operations to and from the facility and later withdrawing after a few flights.