Bird threat to planes stalls fresh plan to relocate dumpsite

Sunday 9th June, 2013 on The Daily Nation

Dandora Dumpsite. File But according to Leah Oyake, the director of environment at the Nairobi City County, the concerns by the aviation industry would be addressed by the technology that would be employed in the setting up of the landfills. A fresh bid by the Nairobi County Government to relocate the Dandora dumpsite has hit a snag, with stakeholders in the aviation industry having ruled out the two selected sites over safety concerns for arriving and departing aircraft. Industry players say dumpsites attract scavenger birds, which are a safety threat because they collide with aircraft leading to crashes or huge financial losses.

International aviation safety standards require that dumpsites and landfills must not be located within a radius of 13 km of an airport. The city administration had settled on either Ruai or Mavoko as possible sites for setting up of sanitary landfills, in an ambitious project to be funded by the Japanese government for between Sh2 billion and Sh3 billion.

Aviation industry regulators have, however, blacklisted Ruai saying it falls on the flight path of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) and within the set radius of all airports in Nairobi. They say garbage would attract birds and increase chances of incidents during takeoff or landing.

The county then opted for the Mavoko land which was originally bought for a cemetery at a cost of Sh283 million, but which proved not fit for the purpose. This, too, was ruled out because of its proximity to JKIA.

“Ruai and Mavoko are out of question,” said Mr Mutia Mwandikwa, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) corporate communications manager. KCAA is responsible for regulating the aviation industry in Kenya by ensuring all safety standards are adhered to.

Mr Mwandikwa says that with the location of JKIA and Wilson, birds from the National Park will be overflying the two airports to scavenge for food in the dumpsites. Kenya Airports Authority wildlife control section head George Amutete says JKIA experiences four bird strikes for every 10,000 flights.

Bird strikes happen when birds collide with airborne planes.

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