Fly to Meru County

Isiolo International airport, a Vision 2030 project was officially commissioned by President Uhuru Kenyatta in July 2017.

The airport that straddles Meru and Isiolo counties is located near Isiolo town and is accessible from Meru town through Ruiri-Isiolo road and the Nanyuki-Isiolo road. It can also be accessed through Muriri-Isiolo road.

According to the Kenya Airport Authority, the Airport is located on the border of Isiolo and Meru Counties with half of the runaway extending into Meru County.

“Its location is approximately 283 kilometres (176 mi), by road, and about 200 kilometres (120 mi), by air, north-east of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, the country’s largest civilian airport. The geographic coordinates of this airport are:0° 20′ 37.00″N, 37° 35′ 16.00″E (Latitude:0.343610; Longitude:37.587778).”

Construction of the Isiolo International airport started in 2012 at a cost of Sh2.7 billion and has a 5,000 square meter passenger terminal. It was expected to more than 125,000 travellers every year.

The airport is expected to open up Mt Kenya East region and upper eastern region which boasts of rich tourism, horticulture and livestock farming.

Some of the areas expected to benefit from the airport include Meru, Tharaka-Nithi, Laikipia, Isiolo, Samburu and Marsabit counties which host Mt Kenya, Lewa Conservancy, Olpejeta, Meru National Park, Samburu Game reserve, Buffalo Springs game reserve among many other conservancies.

The airport is also expected to transform the transformation of miraa, beans, cut flowers among others from Meru and neighboring Laikipia once it is ready for cargo carriers.

Recently, President Kenyatta launched construction of Laare-Ndumuru road, which he said was key to easing access from the miraa growing areas to the airport.

Trade Cabinet secretary Peter Munya said there were plans to extend the airport’s runway to handle bigger planes and put up cargo storage areas to ease transportation of goods.

Fly Sax, a private airline had started weekly flights at the airport last year before suspending them and now the facility offers chartered flights.

Meru governor Kiraitu Murungi has been lobbying for operalisation of the airport saying it would be a game changer in the region.

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Opening of Mt Kenya Roads

The opening up of roads leading to the Mt Kenya national Park by the Meru county and national governments is expected to boost tourism in Kenya’s highest peak.

More than 40 percent of the mountain sits in Meru County but the region has not been benefiting from its tourism due to lack of infrastructure.

Meru county government is building a 25 kilometer access road dubbed the Themwe route, that can be accessed from Nkubu town. The national government through funding from the European Union (EU) has also completed the construction of Kalalu Farm- Sirimon Gate- Old Moses Camp Road, that can be accessed from Timau town.

According to governor Kiraitu Murungi, the road will enable tourists access Lake Ellis, as well as the peaks of Mt Kenya. Mountain climbers have been accessing Mt Kenya through Chogoria in Tharaka-Nithi, Narumoru in Nyeri as well as Laikipia and Nairobi counties denying Meru the vital revenue.

“We want Meru residents as well as tourists from Kenya and other parts of the world to easily access the mountain from the Meru side. Locals can easily ride a motorbike on a weekend and enjoy the scenic view of the mountain and lake Ellis. It is possible to achieve one million tourists every year,” governor Kiraitu said.

Meru roads executive Titus Taitumu said the county was spending Sh20 million in upgrading the road. Speaking during the commissioning of the Kalalu Farm-Sirimon Gate-Old Moses road early this year, Roads Chief Administrative Secretary Chris Obure and European Union (EU) First Counselor Walter Tretton said the improved road would ease access, boost security and rescue operations in the mountain.

The national government has also upgraded the Naromoru Gate – Met Station Road. KWS senior warden Isaac Mugo said Mt Kenya has seen a rise in tourists with 26,000 visitors in 2018 compared to 15,000 in 2017.

Meanwhile, Meru County government intends to use Mountain running sport to boost tourism in Mt Kenya. Meru Sports Council Chairman Joseph Kinyua said the inaugural race will be held at the end of this year. The sport will see athletes run up the mountain to finish at more than 2000 meters above sea level.

According to the World Mountain Running Association (WMRA), the first mountain race took place in 1068 when a Scottish King needed to select the best messenger. Mountain race started in the United Kingdon in 1895.

According to Wikipedia, mountain running is recognized by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) and the WMRA has been organizing world championships since 1985.

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County government seeks to improve rescue services across the region

Meru County has partnered with Fire and Rescue Service crew from England in bid to improve rescue services in the region.

Governor Kiraitu Murungi recently created a directorate for special projects in his office aimed at streamlining service delivery.

He said the county government will enhance partnerships and allocate more resources towards purchase of advanced equipment, techniques and well trained personnel in Meru.

The county recently received two state-of-the-art fire engines becoming one of the best in efficient fire management in the country.

Governor Kiraitu said his vision is to have 13 more fire engines for quick and successful intervention in case of emergencies in any part of the county and neighboring areas.

“We want Meru to be the model county in firefighting and rescue services. We want to increase our capacity in terms of personnel and fire engines, and also give our people extensive training on maintaining the equipment, rescue services,” the governor said.

He added that plans were underway to make Meru a center for fire and emergency response training for the country.

Experts from the United Kingdom led by Mr Fred Akadi, the project coordinator, have been training Meru county Fire and Rescue Service team.

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