Kenya’s flower-power kicks off warehouse expansion

A BOOM in fresh flower exports is pushing warehouse expansion at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Kenya.

The export of fresh flowers has been growing at 20 per cent a year, the Kenya Flower Council said. The demand is boosting small-scale farm business alongside the once commercial-farm monopoly.

“We started operating [our] new facility seven months ago, but we are now planning to expand because demand for space is very high,” Swissport Kenya chief executive officer Jeroen de Clercq said. Swissport Kenya is one of the five cargo handling facilities at JKIA.

IN January Swissport completed a Sh1 billion (US$11 million) expansion project to handle 70,000 tonnes of cargo.

Siginon Freight is putting up a Sh900 million ($9.9 million) cargo handling centre due for completion next year. The centre will include a perishable produce handling facility.

“Because of the airport’s growing status as the largest fresh produce handler in Africa, we have invested in an international cargo handling centre,” Siginon managing director Meshack Kipturgo said. Another cargo facility, Trans Global Cargo, is expected to open its expanded facility soon.

Cargo handled at JKIA has been growing at an annual rate of 12 per cent with the exception of Iceland’s volcanic ash disruptions in 2009.

Cargo volumes dipped in 2010 to 229,000, but are expected to rise to 252,000 tonnes this year, the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) reported. KAA forecasts that by 2015, cargo volumes handled at the airport will increase to 370,000 tonnes, and to 596,000 tonnes in 2020.

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