JKIA could shut down as fu­elling points mal­func­tion

Uhuru’s plane was re­cently towed from the Pres­i­den­tial Pavil­ion to an al­ter­na­tive re­fu­elling point be­fore be­ing towed back for de­par­ture

The Star (Kenya) - - Politics Ministries And Judiciary - DOMINIC WABALA @Wa­bal­aDo­minic

Al­most half of re­fu­elling hy­drant pit valves at the Jomo Keny­atta In­ter­na­tional Air­port have mal­func­tioned, rais­ing fears of a loom­ing clo­sure.

Sixty of the 130 pit valves, where all in­ter­na­tional and lo­cal air­craft land­ing at JKIA are ex­pected to re­fuel, have stalled and need ur­gent re­place­ment. The pit valves were in­stalled two years ago.

The break­down of the valves has af­fected many air­planes. Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta’s plane was re­cently towed from the Pres­i­den­tial Pavil­ion to an al­ter­na­tive re­fu­elling point be­fore be­ing towed back for de­par­ture.

The hy­drant pit valves are pro­cured, in­stalled and main­tained by the sole jet fuel sup­plier to JKIA – Kenya Pipe­line Com­pany – ac­cord­ing to an ar- range­ment en­tered into with the Kenya Air­ports Au­thor­ity.

Ac­cord­ing to in­ter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tion, if the hy­drant pit vales are not re­paired or re­placed, JKIA risks a pos­si­ble boycott by in­ter­na­tional air­lines and is likely to shut down.

“We asked for a win­dow at short no­tice to carry out an ur­gent pit valve re­pair in the early hours of to­day ( 9/9/2016 ). Our hopes were that the re­fur­bished old pit valves would work,” an in­ter­nal email com­mu­ni­ca­tion says. But a valve failed as it was be­ing used.

“The KQ plane had to be towed away for it to re­fuel at a dif­fer­ent pit. For KQ this is an ac­tiv­ity that costs them money due to de­lays and in­ci­den­tals. The last time we had an up­date on re­place­ment pit valves is­sues was about three weeks ago. The sit­u­a­tion is get­ting des­per­ate.”

KPC man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Joe Sang yes­ter­day said his team is ad­dress­ing the cri­sis to avert clo­sure of the air­port.

KPC has the valves but they are locked in their store be­cause their pro­cure­ment is un­der probe by the EACC, he said.

“The Board met and dis­cussed. We re­solved that ten­ders for small amounts of the valves be placed to ad­dress the mat­ter. Ten­ders for small quan­ti­ties will be placed so as not to ground the coun­try in the event that they get fin­ished,” the MD said.

“The num­ber of pit valves fail­ing at JKIA has in­creased. Most of these valves were in­stalled at the same time, there­fore when they start fail­ing the way they are do­ing now, they will fail in suc­ces­sion. We are fac­ing a very em­bar­rass­ing sit­u­a­tion.”

The pit valves were supplied by a lo­cal com­pany – Aero Dis­penser Valves Ltd – at Sh600 mil­lion. The EACC is in­ves­ti­gat­ing the KPC and Aero Valve Dis­penser over the pro­cure­ment.

GLOBAL AIR­LINES MIGHT BOYCOTT JKIA

/REUTERS

Kenya Air­ways planes parked at the Jomo Keny­atta In­ter­na­tional Air­port, Nairobi, on April 28

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