Foreign

August 27, 2023

Kenyan airports boss sacked after hours of power outage left tourists stranded

Kenyan airports boss sacked after hours of power outage left tourists stranded

The head of Kenya’s airports authority, Alex Gitari, has been fired after a power cut left passengers stranded in darkness for hours at Nairobi’s main airport.

Gitari was sacked by Transport Minister Kipchumba Murkomen, who has apologised for the chaos, according to BBC.

He added that political interference had gave birth to a demoralised and disorganised workforce in the East African country. 

The majority state-owned power company has not explained exactly what caused the countrywide power cut.

Although some areas have seen power restored, homes and businesses across much of the country are still affected by the outage that began on Friday.

Tourism is a key part of Kenya’s economy, accounting for about 10% of GDP at the last count by government. The sector is also one of the East African nation’s top sources of hard currency.

Kenyans on social media are outraged that the main airport did not have functioning back-up generators.

In addition to Gitari, another senior civil aviation authority official has been sacked and the manager of Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport has been demoted to a role at Mombasa’s main airport.

Meanwhile, there have been chaotic scenes and long queues at the entrances to Kenya’s national parks after the digital payment system failed.

Power cuts are not unusual in Kenya, but such a lengthy countrywide outage with Nairobi’s main airport, hospitals and even State House plunged into darkness is rare.

When things don’t run smoothly, Kenyans are quick to point to corruption – the colossal theft of public funds has long held the country back.

BBC said the transport minister said two generators procured for the airport two years ago are yet to be commissioned.

It would be interesting to know how much they cost, who got the contract and why they have not yet been installed.