Robin Obino @PeopleDailyKe
After missing completion deadline by nearly two years, the new Isiolo International Airport is now ready for operations. The airport, the fifth largest in the country and the first in the northern area, will open up the region for tourism and other economic possibilities.
Sitting on approximately 800 acres, the infrastructure straddles Isiolo and Meru counties which are the gateways to regional trade with neighbouring Ethiopia and South Sudan.
Speaking during the final inspection tour of the facility, Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) managing director Jonny Andersen said the airport, which has been handling domestic flights, is now able to handle international flights. He also said the renovation cost Sh1.7 billion and not the Sh2.7 quoted in some media outlets.
In an interview with People Daily, Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry chairman Isiolo county, Hussein Jama was upbeat about the growth potential of cargo business.
“The region’s major economic activity being pastoralism, residents will now transport dairy products with ease to both local and international markets. Miraa (khat) farmers from Meru and other neighbouring miraa-growing areas will also benefit from the facility,” he said.
He also said tourists arriving from European destinations to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) can now connect directly to Isiolo instead of going by road adding that the hospitality industry in the town has the capacity to handle a large number of visitors.
The expansion of the airport to a 3,000-metre runway, previously a 1,400m runway airstrip, has also seen many life-changing projects coming up. Residents say most of them have now been connected to electricity, roads have been paved and highrise buildings are coming up. President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to officially open the facility later in the week.