Upgrade for Moshoeshoe I air­port

Lesotho Times - - Business - Retha­bile Pitso Retha­bile Pitso

MOSHOESHOE I In­ter­na­tional Air­port is set for a ma­jor upgrade fol­low­ing the ink­ing of a M232.56 mil­lion fi­nanc­ing agree­ment be­tween the govern­ment and Kuwait Fund for Arab Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment (KFAED).

The loan agree­ment was signed on Mon­day in Maseru by Fi­nance Min­is­ter Dr ‘ Mam­phono Khaketla, on be­half of govern­ment, and KFAED Deputy Di­rec­tor-gen­eral Ha­mad Al-omar.

Dr Khaketla said the re­con­struc­tion pro­gramme would en­tail, among oth­ers, in­creas­ing the air­port’s han­dling ca­pac­ity by ex­tend­ing the run­way to han­dle larger air­craft, con­struct­ing a new VIP ter­mi­nal build­ing, ren­o­vat­ing the ex­ist­ing ter­mi­nal build­ing and in­stalling nav­i­ga­tion aids in com­pli­ance with in­ter­na­tional civil avi­a­tion stan­dards.

“On Fri­day, when I pre­sented the bud­get speech, I in­di­cated that the govern­ment of Le­sotho was in the process of mod­ernising the Moshoeshoe I In­ter­na­tional Air­port with the sup­port of the Kuwait Fund and sev­eral other de­vel­op­ment part­ners,” the min­is­ter said.

“This as­sis­tance has been long in com­ing since dis­cus­sions had been on­go­ing be­tween of­fi­cials from Le­sotho and Kuwait.”

Dr Khaketla said the air­port up- grade was meant to cater for ex­ist­ing and fore­cast de­mands for pas­sen­ger and cargo fa­cil­i­ties.

“The air­port’s ca­pac­ity needs to be in­creased so it can ac­com­mo­date AVANI Le­sotho ho­tel group has re­ceived an award for sales ex­cel­lence in 2015 from its par­ent com­pany Mi­nor Ho­tel Group (MHG).

This was re­vealed by MHG Di­rec­tor-africa, Sir Richard Hawkins, dur­ing an event held to hon­our four mem­bers of staff for their out­stand­ing work over the course of last year.

The two ho­tels, AVANI Le­sotho Ho­tel & Casino and AVANI Maseru Ho­tel, are sub­sidiaries of the Thai­land-based MHG, and were ac­quired from gam­ing and re­sorts group, Sun In­ter­na­tional last July.

The out­stand­ing staff mem­bers were Stian van Blerk in the Unsung Hero cat- large air­crafts. We en­vi­sion that in the not too dis­tant fu­ture, there will be di­rect flights from Le­sotho to other coun­tries such as Kuwait with­out nec­es­sar­ily hav­ing to pass through OR Tambo In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Jo­han­nes­burg,” she said.

“We also in­tend to cre­ate room for cargo planes that ex­port var­i­ous goods abroad. For in­stance, we can ex­port fresh flow­ers to the Euro­pean Union. So, hav­ing the ca­pac­ity to ac­com­mo­date cargo planes would bring us more busi­ness.”

Dr Khaketla said the air­port also had the po­ten­tial to be a lu­cra­tive hub for South African farm­ers liv­ing near Le­sotho.

“There are many farm­ers in the Free State prov­ince of South Africa who ex­port var­i­ous prod­ucts to Europe and the Middle East but have to trans­port their cargo to air­ports in Cape Town or at OR Tambo,” said the min­is­ter.

“It would, thus, be more cost ef­fec­tive for farm­ers in Bloem­fontein, Ficks­burg, Fouries­burg and sur­round­ing ar­eas to ex­port their cargo from Le­sotho and not from South Africa.

“With the ex­pan­sion of the air­port, we are hop­ing to at­tract such kind of busi­ness from the South African mar­ket.”

On his part, Mr Al-omar said the fi­nanc­ing agree­ment was KFAED’S way of help­ing Le­sotho grow its econ­omy.

“Since the es­tab­lish­ment of KFAED in 1978, the two coun­tries have en­joyed a fruit­ful re­la­tion­ship that has lasted for 38 years,” he said. “Over the years, var­i­ous loans amount­ing to $54 mil­lion (M 845.78 mil­lion) have been used to­wards de­vel­op­ing the coun­try. We are very happy to sup­port the govern­ment and the peo­ple of Le­sotho.”

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Dr ‘Mam­phono Khaketla (right) ap­pends her sig­na­ture to the loan agree­ment worth M232.56 mil­lion.

avani Gen­eral Man­ager Ri­aan van Rooyen (left) presents a cheque prize to Team Player cat­e­gory win­ner Leoa­tle Hla­bana.

MHG Di­rec­tor- africa Sir Richard Hawkins (left) presents the sales ex­cel­lence award to Mr van Rooyen.

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