Stalled Suneka Airstrip in Kisii County. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

The government has announced plans to decommission Suneka Airstrip in Kisii County.

Leaders in Kisii have been pushing for rehabilitation of the airstrip that has been in operation for four decades, to enable cargo and passenger airlines ply the region.

Five years ago, the airstrip received its first phase of upgrading worth Sh52 million and involved construction of a perimeter wall, parking, an administration block and a passenger lounge.

Last year, the government was to expand the airstrip runway as part of Sh132 million rehabilitation plan to accommodate bigger aeroplanes.

The Kenya Airports Authority wanted the runway expanded from current 950 metres to 1.045 kilometres. While attending a church service in Nyaribari Masaba Kisii last Sunday, President William Ruto announced that the airstrip was set for decommissioning.

He said there was not enough land to allow KAA expand the existing airstrip, hence the need to find an alternative land in the area. "I request leaders from Kisii and Nyamira to handle this matter urgenly. I am decommissioning Suneka Airstrip to give room for our leaders to find an alternative land where the government will put up an airport," he said.

President Ruto said the land under Suneka Airstrip would then be converted for use by other public institutions.

Leaders from Kisii had requested the government to fund the airstrip's expansion and completion of the new runway. Their counterparts from Nyamira had also requested funding for proposed Kiendege Airstrip in Kitutu Masaba constituency.

Leaders from the two counties will now be forced to return to the drawing board after the president said construction of Kiendege Airstrip was not viable either.

"Experts have reported that it could be impossible to have an airstrip at the proposed Kiendege area. Let the leaders agree on how to move forward and my government will give support," he said.

Kisii Governor Simba Arati and Bomachoge Chache MP Alfa Miruka had requested the government to put up an airport at Nyangusu area in Bobasi Constituency. Nyangusu borders Narok County along the Kilgoris-Kisii border.

The government had estimated to spend Sh500 million to put up Kiendege Airstrip in Nyamira.

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