August 17, 2008

Protests in Western Kenyan Town Over Airport Expansion Plan

Text of report by: Fredrick Odiero entitled "Villagers demand compensation over airport project" published by Kenyan opposition newspaper Kenya Times website on 16 August

Hundreds of villagers affected by the expansion of the Kisumu Airport [western Kenya] yesterday took to the streets of the town demanding to be compensated for their land taken by the project.

The placard-waving protesters vowed not allow the project to continue before their grievances were addressed.

The protesters drawn from Kogony village in Kisumu were blocked by the police from entering the Kenya Airport Authority (KAA) offices to present their grievances, as the project was being handed over to the China Overseas Engineering Company. The authority's manager, Philemon Chamwada, said the land issue was being handled by the responsible ministry.

He said the government had promised to provide security to allow for the project to continue as scheduled. Chamwada said the authority was already in possession of a title deed for the land and that they were working on the mode of compensation for those affected. Addressing the press at the airport where he was accompanied by the Chinese construction firm representative Wang Hiu, Chamwada maintained that the project would go on as planned.

The villagers' representative, Ayub Ogindo, said the project would not kick off until the compensation issue was addressed. He added that the locals would seek legal redress to ensure they were compensated for their land. The project expected to cost 3bn shillings [about 44m dollars] is set to commence this month and will involve lengthening the 1.7km runway to 3km to cater for bigger planes.

Once finished, the new airport would put Kisumu at par with port towns of Entebbe in Uganda and Mwanza in Tanzania airports which handle international flights.

Originally published by Kenya Times website, Nairobi, in English 16 Aug 08.

(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring Africa. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.