Authority flattens businesses outside Mombasa’s main airport

KAA says demolition of premises near Moi International Airport done for security purposes. The perimeter wall of Great Lakes Port Limited, a Container Freight Station owned by a Mombasa tycoon, was among those affected.The owner of a yard holding scrap metal and second hand goods, Khalid Omar, claimed he was not served with notice prior to demolition.

A bulldozer pulls down the main gate of the Great lakes Container Freight Station in Mombasa that was said to be on the pathway of Moi International Airport on March 20, 2018. Photo | Laban Walloga | NMG

Business structures near Mombasa’s Moi International Airport have been reduced to rubble after the government moved to demolish property located along its flight path. The Tuesday operation overseen by police officers and the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) brought down premises and a church at Kwa Jomvu, leaving owners counting losses totalling millions of shillings.The perimeter wall of Great Lakes Port Limited, a Container Freight Station owned by a Mombasa tycoon, was among those affected.An earthmover also flattened other structures near the airport including open air garages and food kiosks.

Members of the public watch the remains of what was a garage near Jomvu get demolished on March 20, 2018. Photo | Laban Walloga | NMGMombasa county police commander, Johnston Ipara, confirmed they were targeted because they are located along a flight path.According to Kenya’s aviation rules, structures should not be put up near an airport for security purposes.“We are here to do our work. We are not supposed to talk to anyone. If you have any issues just go to the deputy commissioner’s office. He represents the government and this activity is being carried by the government,” said a KAA official at the scene in response to journalists’ queries.The owner of a yard holding scrap metal and second hand goods, Khalid Omar, claimed he was not served with notice prior to demolition.“I have been here since 1989 and I have no issues with the government. In fact I have a lease for the land I am occupying given by the Kenya Railways. I wonder why they had to do this without considering the losses we will incur,” said Mr Omar.The proprietor of a church that was demolished also says no eviction notice was given, adding that the church has been operational since 2005.“How come our structures can be termed as illegal yet we have been here since then? This is not fair at all,” said Reverend Christopher Mwangi of Jesus Invitation Centre.A bulldozer flattens the Jesus Invitation Center that had been constructed on the perimeter fence of Moi International Airport in Mombasa on March 20, 2018. Photo | Laban Walloga | NMGHowever, Mr Ipara says the demolition exercise was legal and followed a court order.“The order was issued on February 28 and the demolition is purely intended to clear the landing path of the airport and to ensure lights which direct the flights are visible so pilots see the runway from a distance,” added the county police commander.The court order seen by the Business Daily says: “It is hereby ordered that the applicant (KAA) is hereby granted an order to evict the respondents from the landing lights of MIA on which they have trespassed and erected illegal structures.”Further, Mr Ipara warned that this was only the first phase of demolition, adding that it will continue in order to clear all illegal structures near Moi International Airport.A passenger plane arrives at Moi International Airport amid demolition of structures along the airport’s pathway on March 20, 2018. Photo | Laban Walloga | NMG

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