NAIROBI: The Government has put on hold the construction of a new Sh56 billion terminal at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA). The project dubbed Green Field Terminal (GFT) was expected to transform the airport into a world-class aviation hub.

In a statement yesterday, the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) cited operational, economic and financial dynamics, which have been on a downward trend over the last three years, as key reasons for shelving the project. “The Kenya Airports Authority wishes to inform the public the JKIA Green Field Terminal project has been terminated with immediate effect,” read the statement sent to newsrooms, signed by the acting Managing Director Yatich Kangugo (pictured).

The termination of the Vision 2030 flagship project is a major blow to the Government’s earlier stated vision of turning Kenya into one of Africa’s top aviation hubs. The termination also leaves the country’s pivotal development programme, Vision 2030, in disarray. Avoid fake news! Subscribe to the Standard SMS service and receive factual, verified breaking news as it happens. Text the word ‘NEWS’ to 22840 Earlier, Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia had said the project was abandoned because it did not offer any value. Efforts to reach the CS were futile as his phone went unanswered.

But KAA said JKIA had been operating below expectations for the past three years, thus the need to terminate the project. “The JKIA hub has the capacity to handle 7.5 million passengers per year. In the last financial year, the facility handled 6.5 million passengers,” said Mr Kangugo. He, however, did not respond to our queries regarding the contrasting statement from the CS. GFT was supposed to increase JKIA’s passenger capacity by a whopping 147 per cent to 18.5 million passengers per annum from the current 7.5. JKIA was constructed in 1978 to serve about 2.5 million passengers per year but over the years, the capacity has shot up to 7.5 million passengers.

The increase came after a reorganisation and modernisation of the airport, which expanded the capacity at Terminal 2 by an additional 2.5 million passengers per annum, according to KAA’s statement. KAA notes that terminal IA, which is set to be opened soon, will increase the passenger capacity by an extra 2.5 million passengers per annum. “When this is added to the original capacity of 2.5 million passengers in 1978, the total installed capacity rises to 7.5 million in 2016 against the actual passenger number of 6.5 million, leaving an excess capacity of one million,” reads the statement. According to data from the lead financier of the project, African Development Bank (AfDB), the aircraft movement (ATM) has also increased to over 72,700 aircraft per year and is predicted to reach 195,000 aircraft per year by 2030. The current cargo handling capacity is estimated at 252,000 tonnes.

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