Govt condemns new Joshua Nkomo airport


Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo

JOSHUA Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport, revamped at a cost of about US$25 million, still does not meet international standards hence government would need to pump in more money towards its upgrade.

Named after the late vice president, Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo, the airport has been under construction for the past 13 years. Its upgrade and rehabilitation has on several occasions missed completion deadlines due to shortage of resources to finance the project.

It was initially scheduled for completion in December 2004 but in 2003, the project stopped due to a nationwide shortage of cement and more delays on the project continued over the years as a result of financial constraints.

Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister, Joram Gumbo, now says the airport does not conform to international standards, hinting government may have to cough additional resources to spruce it up.

“I am not even happy about the appearance of the Joshua Nkomo Airport, every aspect of the airport is not up to standard,” he said.

Gumbo said upgrading the appearance of the facility was important because airports were the first place where visitors got a feel of the country, hence they should be presentable.

“The visitor’s first impression of our country is formed at the airport that is why we need to change the appearance of the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Airport,” he said.

The airport is still incomplete with certain areas, such as the control tower, fire station and runway, still to be completed.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ), which is responsible for regulating and managing Zimbabwe’s airspace, has been upgrading the country’s airports to increase their capacity, as well as enabling them to provide modern facilities and services.

The projects will see the expansion of the existing airports and investment in the latest aviation infrastructure in a bid to turn the country into a competitive regional aviation hub.

Apart from the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport, CAAZ has also embarked on the upgrading of the Victoria Falls International Airport.

The US$150 million project entails the construction of a new four kilometre runway, a new international terminal building, new fire station, new control tower and installation of state-of-the-art aviation specialist equipment.

Financed by a loan from the Export-Import Bank of China, the project is being carried out by a Chinese construction company, Jiangsu International Economic and Technical Cooperation Group.

The project is aimed at raising the airport’s passenger capacity from the current 500 000 up to about 1,5 million annually, with the ability to accommodate long-haul aircrafts from abroad.

The new facilities are expected to increase efficiency in Zimbabwe’s tourism sector, as well as improving the country’s image.

CAAZ has also invested more than US$30 million in refurbishing the Harare International Airport runway and taxiway.

It also requires more than US$400 million to invest in other airports facilities to keep them in line with international standards.

Zimbabwe has eight airports which have not been upgraded in the past decade due to the unavailability of funds.

Smaller airports such as Buffalo Range and Kariba also require attention including the establishment of airspace navigation infrastructure.


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