Ruto reveals big plans for Matulo Airstrip in Bungoma

The government has announced plans to elevate Matulo Airstrip in Bungoma county to an international Airport to open up the Western region circuit and connect it to the outside world.

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

He tasked the county government of Bungoma to engage residents around the Airstrip in plans to relocate and pave the way for expansion.

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

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

He said the national government will provide funds for expansion of the runway and improve the Airstrip terminal.

Construction of the Airstrip was done as part of the preparations for the 61st Madaraka Day celebrations.

The President used the Airstrip for landed when he arrived in Bungoma for his four-day stay on May 30.

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

“There is no need of 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 promising to name it after the 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 works at the Airstrip on Friday to assess its suitability and utility, ahead of Madaraka Day Celebrations,

detailed the government plans to expand the airstrip once more land was acquired.

According to the CS, the airstrip is expected to have high traffic as it will be serving the counties in the Western region and potentially Uganda given the proximity.

The Airstrip was initially located near the town centre.

Mr Murkomen said the relocation that done to the tune of Sh139 million was strategic.

Matulo Airstrip runway 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 indicated that his Ministry would be partnering with the county government in actualising 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 asked the two levels of governments to handle the Airstrip expansion process cautiosly to ensure fairness to land owners.

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

“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 on their own volition must also be compensated diligently,” he said.

He also assured land and property owners who will be affected that compensation for the deserving cases will be fair.

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