Kakamega airstrip. Several issues are threatening plans to elevate the airstrip into airport status. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

A compensation row is brewing between the county and national government over the planned expansion of the Kakamega airstrip.

Although the national government promised to compensate the affected locals, Governor Fernandes Barasa and Senator Boni Khalwale are reading different scripts.

Barely two months after President William Ruto officially launched the airstrip for commercial flights when he toured Kakamega county, several issues are threatening the plans to expand and elevate the airstrip into airport status. Issues being raised are on the compensation of graves, houses, crops, and now the money for land.

During his visit tour, Dr Ruto asked Governor Barasa to look for alternative land for residents and landowners around the airstrip for relocation, promising that the national government was ready to compensate them.

Last Friday, during the launch of Kakamega Forest fencing by Cabinet Secretary of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Soipan Tuya at Kakamega forest in Shinyalu constituency, a few metres from the airstrip, the land compensation issue emerged again with Barasa and Khalwale differing sharply over the issue.

Senator Khalwale told Barasa that he has been creating awareness, sensitising the residents and landowners around the airstrip through public participation in the expansion project of the airstrip.

He argued that residents were ready to move and were only waiting for the county government to actualise their resettlement by getting money for land compensation.

“When the president was here in Kakamega, he told you (Barasa) that the issue of extra land for the expansion of our airstrip was under you, and you were to deal with it, and you promised to do so”.

“With the help of Shinyalu MP Fred Ikana and Ikolomani MP Benard Shinali, we have made it easier for our governor by rallying our people behind the expansion of the airstrip project, and they have agreed and are ready to move. However, I have been trying for the last two weeks to seek an appointment, but you have been busy and unreachable,” said Khalwale.

Khalwale told Barasa as leaders they should talk and resolve to pave the way for the expansion of the project.

However, Governor Barasa dismissed Khalwale’s assertion stating that compensation of land for the airstrip project was not a county government function but rather a national government mandate.

“If it is relocating our people to Shikusa, we must get funds from either Kenya Airport Authority or the national government so that our people can be compensated,” said Barasa.