The government has announced plans to upgrade Matulo Airstrip in Bungoma County into an “international airport” to open up the Western Region circuit and connect it to the outside world....READ THE FULL ARTICLE FROM THE SOURCE

President William Ruto announced the plans to upgrade the newly constructed airstrip while presiding over the 61st Madaraka Day celebrations at Masinde Muliro Stadium in Bungoma town.

He tasked the Bungoma County government to involve residents around the airstrip in plans to relocate them and pave the way for the expansion.

The airstrip was originally allocated more than 70 acres of land, but a small part of it has been encroached upon by the public.

“I ask the governor of Bungoma to engage the residents with a view of acquiring enough land for the airstrip to extend the runway and have a new terminal, so that it be upgraded to international standards so that it can be economically viable,” said Dr Ruto.

He said: “As I said yesterday, you would not need to go to Eldoret or Kisumu to take a plane; you will just take it here in Matulu. Unless you have a date in Eldoret or Kisumu, just come, but the plane will be here.”

He said the national government would provide funds to extend the runway and improve the airstrip terminal.

The construction of the airstrip was part of preparations for the 61st Madaraka Day celebrations.

The president’s plane landed at the airstrip when he arrived in Bungoma for his four-day stay on May 30.

Dr Ruto said his government was determined to open up the country to air transport.

“There is no need for people from Bungoma to move to Kisumu or Eldoret for a flight unless they have a date in those areas,” he added.

Bungoma Governor Kenneth Lusaka had asked the President to upgrade the airstrip to international standards and promised to name it after Dr Ruto.

“We desire that Matulo Airstrip is expanded and upgraded to international standards. If you help us with this request, we will name it after you,” he said.

Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen, who inspected the construction work at the airstrip on Friday to assess its suitability and utility ahead of the Madaraka Day celebrations, outlined government plans to expand the airstrip once more land has been acquired.

According to the CS, the airstrip is expected to see a lot of traffic as it will serve counties in the Western Region and potentially Uganda given its proximity.

The airstrip was originally located close to the town centre.

Mr Murkomen said the relocation, which cost Sh139 million, was strategic.

The runway at Matulo Airstrip is 1.1 kilometres and the government is in the process of constructing various buildings to serve as customer service areas and offices.

“We are working to get more land so that we can expand the runway to 2.5 kilometres and get traffic flying directly to the airstrip. We removed it from the town and have taken it to Webuye so that it can be expanded enough and serve the counties in this region and Uganda,” he explained.

Mr Murkomen said his ministry would work with the county government to realise the expansion plans.

“Acquiring more land is a priority as directed by the president and we shall work with the county government and the rest of the leadership to make it a reality,” the CS stated.

Bungoma Senator Wafula Wakoli urged the two levels of government to handle the airstrip expansion process carefully to ensure fairness to landowners.

He said the concerns of residents who will be affected by the expansion must be addressed.

“We shall call for valuation of residents houses, trees, crops and other properties falling within 700 metres by 500 metres distance from the facility. Those who will be willing to move out of their own volition must also be compensated diligently,” he said.

He also assured land and property owners who will be affected that compensation will be fair to those who deserve it….CONTINUE READING THE FULL ARTICLE>>>

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