Herders take over neglected airstrip

Residents will have to wait longer for Itembe Airstrip that has been lying idle for 27 years to be revived.

The once vibrant airstrip that served Bomet and Narok counties has been turned into a grazing field by locals. Its pot-holed runway has been turned into a training ground by local driving schools.

A section of the field is used as a play ground by boys herding livestock.

Bomet Governor Joyce Laboso had pledged to revive the airstrip in collaboration with Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) and Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA).

When Laboso took over the county leadership, she visited the airstrip in the company of KAA and KCAA officials.

But now her government, through Roads, Transport and Infrastructure executive Philip Sawek, says no money has been set aside for it's refurbishment.

Tenwek Mission Hospital in Bomet Central has been the biggest victim of the poor state of the airstrip.

Hospital management said they now rely on airstrips in Kericho and Narok counties to fly out emergency cases.

“We incur extra cost relying on the airstrips in neighbouring counties,” said an official at Tenwek.

Tour operators who were relying on the airstrip to ferry tourist to Masaai Mara long relocated to Narok.

This is the second time attempts to revive the airstrip are hitting a snag.

In 2015, then Roads Principal Secretary John Mosonik announced that the national government would pump in Sh50 million to revive the airstrip.

Mosonik said the money would be used to expand the airstrip and put a new layer of tarmac.

The plans, however, aborted after the county announced plans to allocate Sh100 million.

Yesterday, Sawek said the county would wait for the national government to develop the airstrip.

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AirstripItembe AirstripGovernor Joyce LabosoKenya Civil Aviation Authority