Nairobi - The World Bank said on Thursday it had
approved a $203.5m loan to Kenya to fund its
transport sector, part of which will help finance
reconstruction at the country's main airport, a major
regional air hub that was damaged by fire last year.
In August, a fire destroyed sections of Nairobi's Jomo
Kenyatta International Airport, forcing the
suspension of international passenger flights and
blocking a vital thoroughfare for travel to and from
Airlines resumed normal flights within days of the
blaze, but the extensive fire damage forced the
government to set up a temporary passenger
terminal and to promise that it would accelerate
construction on a new terminal.
Before the fire, the airport, built in the 1970s to
handle 2.5 million passengers annually, was
struggling to handle more than 6 million people a
year. Latest passenger figures were not available.
"The additional financing will ... also improve the
preparedness of the Kenya Airports Authority to
respond to disasters such last year's fire
emergency," Diarietou Gaye, the World Bank's
director for Kenya, said in a statement.
Fire fighters were criticised for being too slow and
inadequate to respond, and the authorities were
embarrassed by images of soldiers equipped only
with buckets of water to fight the big blaze.
The World Bank said some of the money would also
be used to complete the expansion of two key road
networks that connect Kenya, east Africa's biggest
economy, to neighbouring countries.
"It will also enable us to complete ongoing contracts
for the upgrading of the two major trade and
transport corridors to facilitate regional trade and
integration," Gaye said.
A motorway known as the Northern Corridor runs
from Mombasa through Nairobi to the Kenya-Uganda
border, while the Western Corridor, runs from the
Kenyan border with Tanzania and goes to Kisumu,
Eldoret and Kitale to the South Sudan border.
Most of the cargo arriving in Mombasa is ferried to
its final destination by road, usually by lorry, ending
up in Uganda or Congo, or going to Burundi,
Rwanda, South Sudan and Somalia.