Govt urged to compensate evictees
25 June 2013, 18:15
The government should consider compensating people who have given their land to facilitate the expansion of the Malindi Airport, Malindi MP Dan Kazungu said Tuesday.
“I favour the expansion of the Malindi airport to allow larger Aircrafts which can ferry large numbers of tourists directly from Europe to Hotels in Malindi, rather than have the airport relocated to Lingo Bayar,” said Kazungu who demanded that the government compensate those set to be evicted.
Talking to the Press outside Eden Roc Hotel soon after a closed door hand over of the old Malindi Constituency Development Fund Committee to his newly inaugurated team, Kazungu said it would be easier for the government to expand the old and short runaways rather that venture into a completely new airport project.
“We need the airport where it is today; the land owners affected by the airport’s expansion should be compensated after relocation,” said the MP adding that an expanded airport had the potential to attract between 1 000 and 2 000 guests monthly, which according to him would spur Malindi's income in a big way.
An expanded airport, he said, would also attract other local and international commerce including the export of fruits such as Mangoes which do well in Malindi.
With the right funding, the Malindi MP felt the airport could be expanded in less than a year while initiating a new airport at lango Baya would take a number of years.
The taunted new airport set to be built by private donors and which the Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi favours, the MP said, needed huge amounts of capital and could fail all together or stall midway causing huge loss of funds.
Plans by the Kenya Airport Authority (KAA) to expand the Malindi airport which at one time was elevated to an international Airport by the then President Daniel Arap Moi have always been thwarted by the presence of a huge number of squatters on land earlier set for the expansion project.
Land set aside for the expansion of the airport hosts more than 800 families on both sides of the two runways and whenever there are plans to mark the land, KAA always faces major protests from the squatters.
Those on the controversial land have invested hundreds of millions of shillings in various permanent buildings including stories. Two schools, various night Clubs and Restaurants as well as a number of private villas and cottages lie on the land set aside for the facility’s expansion.
The airport however has recorded great expansion on its facilities in the recent past with a new terminal and fire fighting station already completed recently.
The terminal built at a cost of KES 198 million has a capacity of holding 500 passengers and covers a new control tower for enhanced air traffic control services as well as part rehabilitation of the runway.
The facility’s manager Walter Agong is on record indicating that KAA planned to acquire more than 25 hectares of land from about 100 families in the southern part of the Malindi airport to facilitate the airport’s expansion.
The Authority last year began evaluating the properties on the land set for acquisition to establish their value before finalising payments. However, since the last evaluation was done, there has been little communication from the KAA.
The decision by the MP to support the airport’s long delayed expansion project places him in a controversial position given that past leaders have almost always pegged their political victory on the support of the squatters on the airport land who have always argued that the facility should be relocated to Lango Baya area which is some 60 kilometers away from Malindi tourist resort town.
Immediate former MP for Malindi (now MP for Kilifi North) pegged his success for the term he served on his support for relocation of the airport elsewhere having seen his predecessor MP Lukas Maitha face protests which included demonstrations for supporting the expansion of the airport and relocation of the squatters.
Malindi however has a huge potential to expand as a tourist resort of international repute based on the fact that a key hotel - the Billionaires Club - set to start hosting some of the wealthiest people in the world, most of whom needed the services of a large airport to host private jets and larger planes.
Italian billionaire and owner of a healthy holiday package based holiday resort – Lion in the Sun - Flavio Briatore is doing final touches on the Billionaires Club next the Malindi Marine Park.
The MP said that he planned to hold consultations with stakeholders and Malindi residents with an aim of coming up with programs to improve the standards of the holiday town in order to compete to attract the top- of-the-market local and international tourists.
“I am planning a major forum with stakeholders in all sectors of Malindi economy with an aim to repackage Malindi into one of the best tourist resorts locally and internationally; we need the input of all including hoteliers, tour operators and ordinary Kenyans to eventually market our resort as one,” said Kazungu.
He said that he intended to ensure that marketing for Malindi as a tourist resort and base for investment was intensified through partnerships with professionals in various organization including the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB).
The MP said he had invited key people from the KTB and the Kenya Utalii College to launch consultations on how Malindi could benefit from a ruthless marketing package to be supported by the government and the stakeholders in tourism.
He announced that the presently empty sections of the Malindi beaches needed to be cleaned and planned especially in the wake of growing encroachment by illegal traders, settlers and at times use of such shoreline land as dumping sites.
The MP announced a project to market Malindi as a wildlife, culture and beach resort noting that with proper planning and partnership, Malindi could eventually rival Dubai as a holiday destination of international repute.
He said Malindi town and kits beaches needed to be cleaned up in a bid to make them more comfortable to local and international tourists.
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