MPs fault airport takeover proposal

Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir talks to the press at Parliament buildings after a recent PIC sitting. [Boniface Okendo,Standard]

The House Public Investments Committee (PIC) has opposed a proposal by the Cabinet seeking to have Kenya Airways take over the running of Kenya Airports Authority (KAA).

The MPs wanted to know the true identity of KQ owners and what sky team partner, KLM, was putting on the table.

The chairman of the committee, Abdulswamad Nasir (Mvita), asked why the Government wanted to allow an entity making losses to take over the management of KAA and warned that the move would have far-reaching implications, including putting the jobs of more than 20,000 employees and the nation at risk.

The MPs opposed the proposal to have the management of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) being handled by KQ, arguing that this would have an effect on the daily running of other international airports and airstrips in the country.

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At the same time, the committee sought a detailed brief of the alleged guarantee signed between the Kenyan government and China Road and Bridges Corporation to have the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) as collateral for the Standard Gauge Railway debt.

“In the face value, the proposal to hand over KAA to KQ is a bad deal. Why is this deal so important? KAA is allowed to give preferential treatment to an airline but not to take over its operations completely. The Government has been pumping billions into bail out struggling KQ arguing that it is the face of Kenya and a tourist destination; why burden it with another task,” asked Mr Nasir.

He argued that in the event KQ decided to relocate its headquarters from Kenya, Kenyans will lose out big time.

He said the committee had written to the investment secretary at the Treasury to provide more information on the deal.

“We are pre-empting the eventual outcome. The National Assembly is now seized of this matter. This was a Cabinet resolution, yet we have no details. The Executive should furnish us with the regulations and inform the House of the financial implications or the country will find itself in trouble,” warned the chairman.

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Babu Owino (Embakasi East) termed the matter as weighty as many stood to lose various opportunities.

“KLM has the voice in this deal. It is indirectly taking over KAA. This is not going to happen on our watch,” he vowed.

Last year, Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang'ula sought a statement from the Transport Cabinet secretary on the issue in the Senate and is still waiting for a response through the transport committee.

MPs Paul Katana (Kaloleni), Nasir, Owino and Justus Kizito (Shinyalu) also took issue with the alleged listing of the KPA as collateral for the multi-billion shilling SGR project debt owed to China.

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