The price of land has nearly doubled around an airstrip set to be upgraded to international status in Nakuru town.
News of the upgrading of the Lanet Airstrip to become an international airport at a cost of Sh3 billion emerged last year.
The Government warned residents of Nakuru’s Ndege-Ndimu village against disposing of their land to brokers.
Property experts have suggested that the assumption fuelling the high prices could be faulty.
Early last year, the county government announced that it had entered into an agreement with the national government, the Kenya Defence Forces and the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority to upgrade the 1.7 kilometre runway at the Lanet Barracks airstrip to international standards.
On Saturday, the county government said the airstrip would be elevated to become an international airport at a cost of Sh3 billion.
According to residents, the price of agricultural land in the area around the future airport, which previously ranged from between Sh2 million to Sh4 million an acre, shot up to nearly Sh10 million after the announcement. The landowners appeared convinced that the airport’s construction would be a boon for residential property developers.
However, Peter Kiama, who previously lived near Lanet airstrip, is not convinced.
Speaking to The Standard yesterday, Mr Kiama, a property dealer, noted that in developed countries, the announcement of a new airport did not improve the value of adjacent properties.
“I used to live near an airport, so I understand how all these problems exist.”
He explained that unlike land near train stations, which offer residents a convenient commute to work or school, those near airports offer little added value while increasing the risk of aviation accidents.
An official at the county’s Department of Land, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the inflated prices being demanded for land surrounding the planned site of the new airport were illogical.
He said the new airport could bring more infrastructure to the area such as roads, water networks and electricity lines. However, it would also lead to more noise pollution and require height restrictions on buildings, making the land unsuitable for condominiums and other residential projects.
“Areas near airports are not suitable for residential properties as they are affected by the noise of planes taking off and landing,” he said.
Yet speculators appeared to be factoring in reports that the airport would be developed as part of a much broader mixed-use project known as ‘airport city’.
Nakuru Town East MP David Gikaria, who represents the area, warned residents against selling their land to brokers whom he said were out to exploit them.