What had been expected to put smiles on the faces of more than 300 families in Kwale County, has turned out to be a source of protests over alleged lack of involvement in an airstrip expansion project.
The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) intends to expand Diani Airstrip to occupy up to 98 acres of land.
This project is meant to ease access of Diani Beach on the South Coast, which is one of the best tourism destinations, not only in Africa, but also in the whole world, an accolade conferred by World Travel Awards.
Yesterday, under the supervision of the Deputy County Commissioner in Msambweni Sub-County, surveyors measured the area intended for the airstrip’s expansion, but this was not well-received by the landowners.
One of the locals, Ali Mondo, said: “We are not against the expansion of the airstrip but we were not involved in the project. This is our land. We live and farm on the same piece of land.”
They asked the KAA to hold a roundtable discussion involving all the stakeholders, explaining that it should not appear as if the project on had been forced them.
The landowners also want compensation paid before the project starts, claiming that they had not even been paid for the land already occupied by the airstrip.
They said they had all ago supported government projects, including the Standard Gauge Railway extension to Malindi Airport, and accused their leaders of turning a deaf ear to their grievances.
The expanded airstrip will enable bigger planes to land and bring in more tourists, boosting the travel industry.