Migori eyes Lichota airstrip upgrade to boost trade

A light aircraft that belongs to Air Kenya on the runway of the completed Migori Airstrip on February 6, 2022. [Caleb Kingwara, Standard]

A wave of optimistism is sweeping through South Nyanza over the business prospects the upgrading of Lichota airstrip in Migori promises to bring to the region.

Traders are optimistic that the airstrip will open the region to trade as well as tourism and are banking their hopes on the facility to revive the region's economy.

The rehabilitation of the facility by the Kenya Airports Authority is at an advanced stage and is part of a strategy to open the region to the country's growing aviation industry.

According to Migori Deputy Governor Gimunta Muhiri, the rehabilitation of the airstrip will save residents from travelling to Kisumu to board flights to Nairobi and Mombasa.

"When we will have regular flights, we will be having more people coming," Deputy Governor Gimunta Mahiri said.

Migori which is a border county and is under the tourist circuit stands to have more goodies in terms of business and passengers.

The county is about 50 kilometers from Maasai Mara, a tourist attraction area which hosts tourists coming from Tanzania through Lichota airstrip.

In the last two weeks, the airstrip has been a beehive of activities as experts from KAA led by its chairman Caleb Kositany inspected the runways and other facilities at the airstrip.

County officials led by the Deputy Governor and County Secretary Oscar Olima have also embarked on a mission to market the potential of the investment.

“We are already in conversation with some commercial operators. We will have an inaugural flight bringing in commercial passengers,” said Mr. Olima.

According to the County Secretary, direct flights will be opened for booking anytime from next week as they will have the first flight landing at the airstrip in a few weeks to come.

The flights which are expected to operate on a daily basis will also enable the transportation of resources and fresh produce from the county to other regions.

“It will not only be a passenger flight. Fresh produce like sweet potatoes will be transported to other regions and overseas. It will be a milestone in terms of transportation,” he said.

To fastract the use of the airstrip, Olima said, the county government has partnered with KAA to construct temporary facilities to enable them operate.

“The work is ongoing and would be completed within the next two week,” he said.

The renovation was done in two phases which involved a major overhaul including extending the then 1.1km runway to 1.2km with over 30 meters wide and tarmacking it to the required standards.

Major improvements that would allow the airstrip to accommodate even bigger aircrafts and more passengers were made part of the second phase of the renovation.

The airstrip has a modern apron, a taxing way, a terminal building, patrol road and security fence.

After the introduction of chartered flights to the airstrip, tourists and residents will now be enjoying the fastest means to reach their destinations.

Among the airlines tipped to tap into the new route include Skyward and Jambo Jet.

The county government is currently working on an urban regeneration program where they are opening up the pathways, clearing Migori town of traffic jams to make it easy for visitors who come through the airstrip to access other destinations in Migori which include attraction sites.

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