Ok, so we don’t usually post this kind of content, lakini this story is getting such a buzz online we decided, what the heck, why not?! The source of this story is one @kenyanaviator who describes himself as, “Kenyan GA pilot, I have many friends in high places…” on his Twitter handle. Anywayz, so what’s all the fuss? Just read his story below, compiled from about 70+ tweets (we gave up counting at 60) and let us know what you think…
Today I will be discussing 2 main topics, about corruption and money in the Kenyan aviation sector. Your opinions are welcome. I know my account is monitored by aviation enthusiasts and people from the aviation sector and even those from the CAA. One of them lives in South C. I was having a cold one with some people the other day, they do not work in the aviation industry. The South C fella, after downing a few too many decided to set his sights on my sector. And blatantly told me how Wilson is posing a threat to those living in South C and Langata, etc. He went on to lament on how aircraft taking off “that runway towards south c” (he meant runway 07) has aircraft flying low over South C and how in the event of an emergency, it is sure as hell that an aircraft will one day crash in South C, killing people in their own homes. Now first of all, I need to put it out there. Shocking as it is, there is no aircraft that has ever crashed in South C. Unbelievable! That is not to say that no aircraft has had a problem while overhead South C. There are many guys that get engine failures while overhead. But they usually manage to glide to the national park, out of harm’s way to the South C people, who barely know what was happening over them. Which brings me to another point. Who allowed for an airport planning to have one of it’s most dangerous sectors over a populated area? So I happened to have done a little investigation. Something little to whet my appetite. And what I came across was unbelievable. Now from here henceforth, whatever I tweet should not be taken to book, because if I am asked to produce this evidence, I WILL NOT.
Back in the 80’s, before the greater development of South C and it’s environs, there happened to be a grand master plan for Wilson Airport. I happened to have seen that master plan. It is called the WAP Master Plan (Wilson Airport Master Plan). In 1987, there were plans of expanding Wilson Airport, by having a parallel runway to 07, on the southern side, where Phenom Estate stands. There were going to have 2 runways, 07L and 07R. Runway 07R was going to be longer than 07L, extending to almost Galleria. The runway was stipulated to be long enough such that a Boeing 737 could land and take off easily from Wilson. The WAP Master plan, clearly shows how the Wilson Airport fence ran in the 1980’s. But somewhere in the 1990’s, something major happened. First of all, I need to remind all citizens of South C and Langata, that Wilson Airport has been at it’s current location since 1925. Every estate around Wilson Airport found Wilson there. The airport has not encroached on anyone’s land, it has not stolen anyone’s land. Sometimes in the late 1990’s, serious corruption took place at KAA. And the land near Wilson Airport started getting sold off to private ppl. I wasn’t able to take pictures of the map that I was shown from the 80s, but I am about to show you something that is strangely unbelievable. As part of the ICAO safety and security standards, Wilson Airport was supposed to have 3 major water tanks to service the airport. These water tanks were supposed to ensure that in the event of an emergency, fire engines can access them to put out fires, etc. In the 1987 map, the 3 water tanks are clearly seen on the map. The first tank is located outside Phoenix Aviation, where it still is. The second tank is located at the other side of the airport, near Uchumi, It still stands there till today. Let’s not even talk about Uchumi. Goodness! Has anyone ever noticed that Uchumi looks like an aircraft hangar? Oh well. #Corruption Then there was the 3rd water tank! Here is where it gets interesting. Now what I am about to show you, is something I have gathered from Google earth, using the information I got from my sources. Google Earth have a feature, more like a time lapse. It shows you how a place looked like from a certain year, all the way to today. Unfortunately, Google Earth only have pictures from 2002 for Wilson Airport, which are still enough to show you how corruption works. Clearly I am not an artiste, but I am going to show you a picture of the 3rd water tank, as via Google Earth, taken in 2002 at Wilson. The water tank is made of concrete. It is Rectangular in shape. And it was put near runway 14 because most aircraft use it to take off. Many apologies for my shoddy artistic work, please see next tweet. Here’s a screen grab from 2002. The black arrow shows you where the water tank is. The red line was the airport fence.
From that pic, you can see that the land grabbing around the fence had already started. Like I said, this started sometime in the late 90’s. And here is the same picture, taken in May 2014. The water tank is now INSIDE South C.
As at today, there are people living approximately 150metres from Runway 14. On the eastern side. Right next to the fence. A DC9 produces enough thrust to flip a 26 wheeler that is stationed behind the aircraft. In the event that a DC9 gets an engine failure during the take off roll, it is likely to swerve and get out of the runway on the side. And those living 150metres away from the runway, I assure you, with that much thrust, a DC9 will not stop in 150 metres. And do you know what is sad? If that plane crashes into your house, and gets on fire, the water tank is not accessible to fire engines. Because people have built houses around it. And you have not even heard half of what I am here to bring to light today. But my main question is, who sold all that airport land? That I will leave for you to answer. On to my next bone of contention. There is this other issue of Phenom Estate. Here is a picture of Wilson, 2002.The black line shows where the WAP had plans of building a longer runway 07R
Now, they are claiming that Wilson airport is unsafe. Wilson airport is currently posing a grave danger to residents of South C. They even want the airport closed down! Because the people of Langata and South C are at risk of death! But there is a reason for all that. There is a reason why they want Wilson Airport closed and relocated to a far off distant location. Wilson Airport apparently lies on a piece of land whose 2014 value stands at almost Ksh 400 Billion! And guess what happens if it is moved. There are powerful people either in govt or in this country, that want the land where over 6000 people get their daily bread. From pilots, flight operations, cabin crew, to the tea girl that serves you tea. They all work at Wilson Airport. But a few people out there, powered by greed and money, are out to ensure that they squeeze the life out of Wilson Airport. Unfortunate as it sounds, and as sad as it may be, this is how it is. Wilson Airport might not be there in 10 years time. I saw a picture of Wilson Airport in 1930. It was a whole strip with nothing around it, no South C, no Langata no nothing. If you also want to see the pic, you can buy a book called “Dreams, Schemes and Flying Machines: History of Aviation in Kenya” When Mrs Florence Kerr Wilson decided to name this airport after herself in 1925, she had dreams that it will grow to be the best. In 2014, great men are using their wealth and power to corrupt the people at @Kenya_Airports to sell them every remaining inch of Wilson. Wilson Airport also lies on one of the flattest pieces of land near the CBD. The market value is out of this world. But you know what? They are going to close down the airport. Yes they will. They will use their power and might and close it. My tweets will not help. Because Wilson Airport is dying. It already has one foot in it’s grave. And there is nothing we can do about it. That is all. As you were. Have to go make use of Wilson while it lasts. See you in Mandera in an hour or so. Have a lovely day people.