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CS Murkomen, CNN’s Larry Madowo in war of words over JKIA problems

The Cabinet Secretary for Roads and Transport, Mr Kipchumba Murkomen, has responded to Kenyan-born CNN correspondent Larry Madowo’s ongoing lamentations about the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) for its glaring inefficiencies in handling local and foreign passengers using the port.

On several occasions, Mr Madowo revealed how passengers were rained on when they arrived at the airport and had to walk from the car park – a distance for someone with several bags – to the main entrance because there was no pavilion to shelter them from the elements.

He also complained about broken escalators and lifts that have been out of order for months in Terminal 1B, which is mainly used by foreign passengers.

Speaking on a local live news programme on Monday evening, April 15, 2024, CS Murkomen accused Larry of suddenly having an open mind on how airports should look and operate just because he now lives abroad.

“JKIA, I’m happy with the reform processes so far. Of course, you will call me again about the generators (which keep going off, leaving the airport in total darkness along with the rest of the country whenever there are electrical problems) and the power cuts. But as I said, they’re very old and need a massive overhaul…

By the way, I saw one of your friends (Larry) taking videos at the airport and he said ‘oh, you know this airport, it rains on people at the exit’. And you know I was laughing because Larry has been with us in the country for the last 50 years when this airport was like that, but suddenly because he is now living in majuu (abroad), suddenly his eyes are open and he realises that there is no shade when you exit JKIA.

It happens to all of us when we travel. These questions should have been asked long ago – since 1978. It is not news that JKIA does not have a canopy to protect passengers, it is a fact. There is a plan. I promise the country that we will use private sector investment to build a new terminal. I want to tell Kenyans that by the time we go to the next elections, we will have a new terminal at least completed or almost completed that will make JKIA a more competitive airport with facilities that will be enviable and make us an aviation hub,” CS Murkomen defended.

In response, Mr Madowo later shot back at CS Murkomen, accusing him of gaslighting the whole situation.

“Premium gaslighting, deflecting & trivialising the issues: 1. JKIA is 66 – 30 years older than me 2. You don’t need a pre-election terminal to build canopies for the existing ones 3. I didn’t “suddenly” discover how bad JKIA is, I’ve been complaining about it for 10 years when the escalators haven’t broken down for ages, the toilets don’t work, or the roof leaks. The incompetence is legendary,” said Mr Madowo on Tuesday, April 16, 2024.

JKIA is the largest airport in Kenya and East Africa, and according to CS Murkomen in past public briefings, it handles approximately 7.5 million visitors per year.

According to African Air Hub, JKIA is one of the busiest airports in Africa in terms of scheduled departures, ranking fourth after OR Tambo in Johannesburg, South Africa, Cairo, Egypt and Bole in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.