KAA says high-rise buildings a security threat at Diani airstrip

Security officials in Kwale have raised alarm over mushrooming commercial and residential buildings around Diani airstrip which they say pose a safety threat.

Private developers have erected unauthorised buildings in the flight path in contravention of Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) laws.

Yesterday KAA confirmed the risk saying there are about 18 marked structures deemed to be posing a danger to aircraft leaving and landing at the airstrip.

“In the flight circuit, there should be no obstacles within a radius of at least 20 metres from the airstrip perimeter fence,” said a security official who asked not to be named.

The official also said according to the security specification of the Diani airstrip, no structure, around the airstrip should rise more than two floors.

But private developers have ignored orders to move their investments from the “danger zones” that are reserved for flights.

The KAA confirmed to The Standard that on 13 March, it wrote to the Kwale County government on the issue.

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KAA communication officer Elijah Miano said the letter raised concern on the safety of flights and its passengers and was addressed to the relevant county department.

Some of their concerns were that buildings, which had been approved to have two floors had been extended to carry five floors.

“After our team made consultations, it was established that some of the buildings were a threat, we are waiting for the county government to act,” said Mr Miano.

It is not clear who owns the said buildings, but reports link them to powerful individuals and tycoons including foreigners.

Yesterday Kwale county government distanced itself from allegations that it issued licences to the developers and approved the construction of the said buildings.

This even as the county government’s executive officer in charge of Housing Physical and Planning Ms Saumu Bejja confirmed that KAA wrote to her raising the complaints about the said buildings.

She said on receiving the letter she wrote to one developer to stop constructions but the said developer defied her orders and continued with raising buildings beyond the stipulated two floors ceiling within the airstrip’s vicinity.

“After receiving the letter from the KAA we visited the area and we established the said buildings were not approved, we ordered the developer to stop the construction but he has defied our orders,” Ms Saumu said on phone.

She noted that she had since engaged the office of the County Commissioner which promised to take action by bringing the illegal buildings down.

“The private developer has been fighting back including writing to us through his lawyers,” she added.

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Diani airstripKenya Airports AuthorityKAAHigh-Rise Buildings