Isiolo and Meru Counties differ over naming of Isiolo International Airport
Leaders from Meru and Isiolo have differed over a proposal to rename Isiolo International Airport after freedom fighter Field Marshal Musa Mwariama.
The airport, which is the fourth largest in the country, sits on approximately 800 acres of land in both Isiolo and Meru counties.
Led by Meru County Assembly Majority Leader Victor Karithi, those supporting the renaming say naming of the airport after the Mau Mau hero is part of honouring those who helped Kenya attain independence.
But Isiolo leaders, including Governor Mohamed Kuti, have rubbished the proposal, saying no county has a say on naming of national facilities.
Mr Karithi said he is lobbying other Meru leaders to push the agenda at the national level in honour of the Mau Mau fighter.
“Field Marshall Mwariama was a national hero who fought until the country gained independence. I am proposing that the airport be renamed Musa Mwariama Isiolo International Airport. The name Isiolo should not be left out for posterity. Since Mwariama was not a politician, I believe the name should appeal to all Kenyans,” Mr Karithi said.
His proposal has been backed by Tigania East MP Josphat Kabeabea and Njuri Ncheke Secretary-General Josphat Murangiri.
HAILED FROM NEIGHBOURHOOD
Mr Murangiri said since the airport straddles both Meru and Isiolo counties, the Mau Mau hero who hailed from its neighbourhood should be honoured through its renaming.
“As Meru leaders and elders, we are ready for the debate on the name change of Isiolo airport. Field Marshall Mwariama should be recognised for his role in liberating this country. Naming the international airport after him is a befitting honour,” Mr Murangiri said.
They said they would draft a petition to the national government to start the process of honouring the Mau Mau hero.
But Isiolo leaders including Governor Mohamed Kuti and Isiolo North MP Hassan Oda said the Vision 2030 project is the property of the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) and is not under any county’s jurisdiction.
“No county has jurisdiction over the airport and nobody can change the name either. We (both counties) are only benefiting from the national project. It doesn’t belong to any county,” said Dr Kuti.
Mr Oda said such topics are emotive and unnecessary to both counties hence should be stopped.
Upon completion, the airport was set to promote growth and unlock the economic potential of the region and neighbouring counties.
It was also expected to promote tourism and export of both livestock products and miraa to international markets.
It has 5,000 square metre terminal with the capacity to handle 125,000 passengers annually.
Early this month, several Meru MCAs also backed the name change proposal when the assembly’s labour committee demanded a report on the number of residents employed at the airport.