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