Chinese-built modern airport boosts Western Kenya's economy

NAIROBI, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- The economy of Kenya's western region has experienced a dramatic revival following the modernization of Kisumu International Airport by a Chinese company.

Located on the edge of Kenya's third largest city, the upgraded Kisumu International Airport is now a busy transport hub connecting the country to the wider eastern African region.

China Overseas Engineering Company (COVEC) won a tender to upgrade Kisumu International Airport in 2008 through competitive bidding.

During an interview with Xinhua, COVEC Vice President Gao Xiang said the company was tasked with the responsibility of upgrading and expanding the Airport's infrastructure to enable it to cope with a huge traffic flow.

While the Kenyan government funded the modernization of Kisumu Airport, the World Bank supervised the entire process.

"The main objective of this project was to expand the airport's terminal and runway in order to deal with traffic congestion. Previously; the runway was in bad condition and posed risk to safety of travelers," Gao told Xinhua.

He added that big aircraft like Boeing 777 from now can land at Kisumu International Airport after the runway was expanded.

Kenyan officials were upbeat that the upgraded Kisumu International Airport will revolutionalize passenger and cargo transportation in western Kenyan and the wider eastern African region.

The transport manager of Kisumu International airport Joseph Okumu said the expansive western Kenya region has experienced an economic resurgence thanks to completion of a modern airport.

"We are proud of the upgraded Kisumu International Airport; it is a boon to the Kenyan economy. This airport has benefited local people through job creation," Okumu told Xinhua.

He revealed that modernization of Kisumu Airport created one thousand jobs for local people.

"Kisumu and neighboring towns have experienced new growth because of the expansion of the airport. Big hotels have sprung up and new roads linking small towns to the airport have been developed," said Okumu.

He added that upgrading of Kisumu International Airport has boosted tourist arrivals in the Western Kenya region.

The modernization of Kisumu Airport has not only eased transport to western Kenya, but has also boosted investments in the expansive region.

Okumu disclosed that one hundred companies have already pitched tent in Kisumu and surrounding towns after completion of the modern airport.

"Currently, an estimated 400,000 passengers are transiting through Kisumu International Airport annually. Tourism is booming and we anticipate the airport will boost export of fish," he told Xinhua.

He commended the Chinese construction firm for adhering to globally recognized engineering standards during upgrading of Kisumu International Airport.

"COVEC has done a superb job based on assessment from our team of engineers who supervised upgrading of Kisumu airport," Okumu remarked.

The upgrading of Kisumu International Airport has injected fresh optimism in Kenya's aviation sector.

Caroline Ndonga, Kenya Airways Kisumu Station Officer, said the upgraded airport is highly prized by local and overseas travelers.

"Our passengers feel safe and comfortable while transiting through Kisumu International Airport. The airport is a boon to airline business," Ndonga remarked.

The upgrading of Kisumu airport from domestic to international status was hailed as a milestone by Kenyan leaders and ordinary citizens.

During his recent visit to Kisumu, President Uhuru Kenyatta said the government will upgrade the lake side city's transport infrastructure to enhance movement of people and cargo across east and central Africa.