13-07-2021 by Freddie del Curatolo
The signs would also be there, but for those who live in Malindi and have known Kenya for many years, they are like distant smoke signals, which can be thwarted by every new breath of wind and which also find many friendly communicators ready to blow on them to direct them elsewhere.
We are talking about the Malindi International Airport.
In the last few days, the news that everything is finally ready to proceed with the final work, the work that is needed to make operational an airport that for some time now has all the necessary requisites to receive planes directly from abroad, has bounced back to the national media: the control tower is in order, the immigration office and the airport authorities are ready, there are rotating baggage dispensers and so on. All that is missing is the blessed extension of the runway by 1.1 km to reach a total of 2.4 km and consequently land Boeing 747s and not only the private jets of Flavio Briatore and other billionaires.
In recent days the Kenya Airports Authority has confirmed that it has started the paperwork to get the work under way as soon as possible. The news is that all the paperwork has been forwarded with the environmental impact studies for final approval to the governmental environmental authority NEMA.
Now more than ever we need the Government's push to obtain this final permit, since according to KAA the funds (1 billion Kenyan shillings) are still available. But the government is busy with other matters, as the election campaign has practically begun, preceded by the campaign to buy politicians for the relevant parties. So is the County, with administrators at the end of their mandate and parliamentarians ready to take over. Not to mention the Minister of Tourism, who a recent Nairobi report listed as one of the three worst ministers in the current government. Certainly for Malindi, Watamu and the interests of those who work there, he has never been among the best.
Will there be room to understand that the new tourism, when it fully reopens, needs destinations that are more easily accessible, as well as with better services and security?
How can one imagine, for those who want to travel with lowered standards of risk of all kinds, that we will still have to hang on to an increasingly busy Mombasa or Nairobi with connections that do not take into account international arrivals centred on coastal destinations?
In short, the recent statement by the airport authorities, which also illustrates the many reasons why the only international airport in the whole of Kilifi County would be good for the recovery of the economy, is in danger of falling on deaf ears again, ending up by not having used the pandemic period, which was the best time ever to prepare for the restart by finally proposing an upgrade.
If we want to be optimistic, let's give everyone another chance.
Otherwise, if you want, I can even get one from Gino Bramieri.
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