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October 2014 travel news 27
Jomo Kenyatta International Airports
(JKIA) brand spanking new Terminal 1 is a
sight to behold – excuse the turn of phrase,
but it is state-of-the-art and world class.
Not yet the finished deal, but almost by the
day Kenya Airways, its primary tenant, is
moving flights over from Terminal 3.
People keep asking me where flight
number so-&-so departs from, my stock
reply ‘Check-in online and all will be
I’m afraid that’s all the good I can manage
for both of Nairobi’s airports at this moment
in time. I’ve had the misfortune of visiting
JKIA on three occasions and Wilson once
recently and lived to tell this tale.
On collecting daughter No.2 from an
international flight early evening, I had
quite surprisingly, the common sense to
arrive two hours before her scheduled
arrival. Friends had warned me of the traffic
nightmare at the airport, exacerbated by
virtually no available parking. Arriving at
six for an eight o’clock arrival is not my
style, but I’m glad I heeded the warnings.
I found a parking bay quite easily, and had
time to catch up with the world via Wi-Fi
over a snack and soda in the arrivals area.
Not that the Wi-Fi worked very well. By the
time daughter emerged all of an hour and
a half after arrival at the gate, the car park
was a zoo.
Not only were all parking bays full, but
also the entire parking lot was jammed
with parked vehicles, that blocked anyone
wishing to get into and in my case out of
the parking lot.
40-minutes of dodgems later I emerged
from my parking bay, yes – my parking
bay, it then took another 30-minutes to
reach pay booth. After paying, what is
a reasonable amount, and on my way
I dared to think that I’d have a clear run
home. No such luck – the line up to get
out of the airport took another 25-minutes
even in the supposedly fast pre-paid lane.
Why is there no order at JKIA?
I’m sure the Kenya Airports Authority
knows all about this, but what are they
doing about it? It wouldn’t take a rocket
scientist and a little enforcement to sort
this mess out. Remote parking for starters
with FREE shuttle buses running every
10-minutes would help. Surely there is
land available to make this happen.
Do not penalize those that stop and drop,
i.e . do not use the parking lots - present
charges should apply. The use of carsparks
should be controlled and charged at a level
say of 200% of that already charged. To
deter the casual parker. Remote long-term
parking should also be made available, as
a park ‘n ride option, which is currently
priced at Kshs. 700/- a day.
I use this facility whenever I travel for any
period of less than a week – which usually
costs less than a round-trip taxi to/from my
neck of the woods.
After the kid’s holidays I had to take two
loads of them back to JKIA for their flights
back to school. I expected the worst, and
got it in spades – if anything the parking at
departures was even more chaotic.
But I’ll not go on.
The line-ups to get into the terminals
are crazy, with very little or no control.
Everyone pushing in, something akin to
a matutu stage, if you get my drift. I was
surrounded by very agitated folk using foul
language, hurling abuse and using their
overloaded baggage trolleys to clear their
way in. Ugly in a word.
Why is there no order at JKIA?
Nairobi’s Wilson Airport of old, was a
pleasure to fly from – a hodge-podge of
terminals with virtually no congestion. I’d
even say a friendly place to be. Congestion
in Nairobi is a given, how we all put up with it
I don’t know. But once you get into Wilson,
serenity returns briefly, but is instantly
dashed when here just like at JKIA there
is no available parking anywhere.
Some airlines, such as Safarilink have built
their own terminals, which are fantastic,
with security up to and beyond that
required by the airport authorities. You can
see the aircraft out front, and you’d expect
to board from there.
Strangely you have to exit the terminal
building the same way you came in, then
enter another building for more security
by the airport authorities in an unsavoury
environment. The return trip see’s you
waiting outside in all kinds of weather for
your baggage. Surely this could be more
Finally, and the agony is almost over.
I noticed at JKIA and Wilson as I do
in other parts of Nairobi that the prime
parking bays are invariably reserved for
senior management and other assorted
hob-knobs. Surely these parking bays
should be for their customers, we after all
contribute to their companies bottom line.
Wise up and sort it people....
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