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KCAA: Beware of flight paths

REAL ESTATE
By Harold Ayodo | June 4th 2015
Police officers man the site of a plane crash in Utawala last year. Buildings along flight paths need to have KCAA consent. [PHOTO: TABITHA OTWORI / STANDARD]

Do you know it is important to seek written consent from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) before erecting buildings near airports?

Scarcity of land, and disregard for safety, has led to real estate investors encroaching on airport land or flight paths.

Consequently, many commercial and residential buildings countrywide risk demolition for not seeking approval from KCAA before construction.

Recently, the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) moved to court and successfully stopped construction of 24 houses in South C estate. KAA argued that the palatial homes posed security and safety risks to Wilson Airport.

Four years ago, many palatial homes were demolished in Syokimau as they were allegedly either on the flight path or had encroached or illegally constructed on land belonging to KAA.

KCAA legal counsel Cyril Simiyu who made a presentation at a recent lawyers’ continuing profession development seminar on aviation law in Nairobi, said encroachments are a cause for concern.

Simiyu who presented a paper titled ‘An Overview of the Kenya Civil Aviation Act (2013)’ pointed out that flights paths are not necessarily within precincts of airports.

According to Simiyu, real estate investors should beware as a flight path can even be more than 50 kilometres from an airport.

Moreover, construction approvals on the height and colour of buildings must also be sought from KCAA.

Today, a drive around Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), Wilson Airport and Moi Airbase in Eastleigh shows effects of the construction boom in Nairobi.

Some of the residential and commercial buildings have encroached into areas around the airports even as experts and authorities warn that many are aviation hazards.

Crashes

According to aviation experts, flight funnels must be visible to pilots for smooth take-off and landing.

For instance, the Moi Airbase — a gazetted protected area — in Eastleigh is sandwiched between high-rise flats making the runway look like a drive way to the residential houses.

There have also been instances over the past five years when airplanes have crashed into buildings leading to deaths and destruction of property.

Flashback to August 2009 when a passenger died and three others were injured after a plane crashed in Nyayo Highrise Estate at about 3p.m.. The plane burst into flames moments after hitting an electric post.

Two years ago, a flight instructor and a trainee pilot died after their plane crashed in Nairobi National Park moments after leaving Wilson Airport. Fast-forward to July last year when four passengers died after a cargo plane headed for Mogadishu, Somalia crashed on a building in Utawala, Embakasi after take-off from JKIA.

As private developers stumble over each other for land, it must be in their ‘to-do’ list to ensure their lawyers exercise due diligence before transacting in property near airports.

The conveyancers (property lawyers) should consult the KCAA before transacting on property that could be on controlled zones.

The risk of having uncontrolled buildings near airports is high as the International Civil Aviation Organization may blacklist local airports over construction in controlled zones.

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