Flights delayed, services paralysed as residents demonstrate at Kabunde airstrip, Homa Bay County

Residents demonstrate at Kabunde Airstrip in Homa Bay County to demand compensation for their land. The demonstration caused tension which paralysed services at the airstrip. [James Omoro, Standard]
Residents demonstrate at Kabunde Airstrip in Homa Bay County to demand compensation for their land. The demonstration caused tension which paralysed services at the airstrip. [James Omoro, Standard]
Services paralysed at Kabunde airstrip in Homa Bay County after residents protested demanding compensation for their land.

Hundreds of residents gathered at the airstrip on Monday morning and stopped operations.

The residents accused the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) of refusing to compensate them for the land used in construction of the airstrip more than two years ago.

The protesters halted air services at the airstrip for some time.

SEE ALSO :Residents paralyse services at Kabunde airstrip

An aircraft belonging to the Fly 540 that was supposed to land from Nairobi at 7.25am delayed for more than one hour.

It arrived at about 8.30am and took only five minutes to take off instead of the usual 30 minutes.

Passengers were unhappy with the delay.

“The delay has affected us negatively hence the KAA should address grievances of these people,” said businessman William Omburo who was travelling to Nairobi.

The protestors led by the Kabunde Land Owners Association chairman Joseph Muga, Spokesperson Charles Okumu, area MCA Julius Nyambok and human rights activist Walter Opiyo said the KAA had declined to compensate 120 people whose land was used for constructing the airstrip.

SEE ALSO :Airstrip expansion put off over pay dispute

They chanted songs as they moved from one part of the airstrip to another to express their grievances.

“Tunakata haki yetu! Tumekataa huduma za KAA!” they chanted.

Muga said they had resorted to demonstrations after several meetings with the KAA on the issue bore no fruits.

“This matter started in 2016 and we have held many meetings with the KAA to compensate us but we only got false promises,” Muga said.

He expressed concern that the KAA had detained 25 title deeds from the residents despite the situation.

“KAA went ahead, took title deeds from 25 land owners and detained them in Nairobi to date. This is a joke,” Muga added.

Okumu said they had given the KAA an ultimatum of one week to address the matter.

He told the KAA to return the title deeds and surrender the land.

“We are going to court after one week if the KAA fails to return the title deeds and surrender the land because it doesn’t want to compensate us,” Okumu said.

Nyambok alleged that the KAA had deprived the residents of their land.

He argued that there was no reason why the KAA could take the residents’ land and detain their title deeds without compensation.

“Land owners can neither use their title deeds as a loan collateral nor for any economic gain because the KAA is undertaking its project on the land,” Nyambok said.

He promised to rally the residents and block air services at the airstrip if KAA fails to address the land owner’s grievances.

“This is a good project but we cannot allow KAA to frustrate people over their land,” he added.

However, the KAA Manager in charge of the airstrip Wycliffe Kadoya admitted the compensation issue saying his bosses were handling it from the headquarters in Nairobi.

“I plead with the protestors to cool down and give me time to talk to our bosses so that they get the feedback in two weeks,” Kadoya pleaded.

But the land owners objected his appeal and continued with the peaceful demo for more than five hours.

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Kabunde airstripKAAKenya Airports AuthorityFlight delayed