Pres­i­dent to com­mis­sion new look Vic Falls air­port

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business Chronicle - Busi­ness Re­porters

PRES­I­DENT Mu­gabe will this Fri­day com­mis­sion the new look Vic­to­ria Falls In­ter­na­tional Air­port whose ex­pan­sion cost $150 mil­lion.

“The Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity of Zim­babwe (CAAZ) would like to in­form its val­ued cus­tomers and the gen­eral pub­lic that the Vic­to­ria Falls In­ter­na­tional Air­port Devel­op­ment Project is set to be com­mis­sioned by His Ex­cel­lency, the Pres­i­dent of the Repub­lic of Zim­babwe, Cde Robert Gabriel Mu­gabe on Fri­day the 18th of Novem­ber 2016,” CAAZ gen­eral man­ager Mr David Cha­wota said.

The new look air­port is a gate­way to the mighty Vic­to­ria Falls, one of the Seven Won­ders of the World, and has been a flag­ship project for CAAZ. Fol­low­ing the up­grad­ing, the air­port can now ac­com­mo­date long haul flights from around the globe.

The com­ple­tion of the project is a ma­jor mile­stone for the coun­try given the re­sort town’s po­ten­tial to trans­form and steer growth in the coun­try’s econ­omy by at­tract­ing more tourists and in­vestors into the coun­try.

Chair­per­son of the Par­lia­men­tary Port­fo­lio Com­mit­tee on Trans­port and In­fras­truc­tural Devel­op­ment Dex­ter Nduna, who is also the leg­is­la­tor for Chegutu West, said the com­mis­sion­ing event will be a sig­nif­i­cant step in the coun­try’s quest to be the re­gional avi­a­tion hub.

Cde Nduna said the Govern­ment now needs to in­stall pri­mary and sec­ondary radar sys­tems to di­rect and man­age air­craft in Zim­babwe’s skies.

He said the radar sys­tems would com­ple­ment the state-of-the-art in­fra­struc­ture at all the coun­try’s air­ports. “Now that we now have state-of-the-art in­fra­struc­ture on our ma­jor air­ports, the Govern­ment should now put in place pri­mary and sec­ondary radar sys­tems to di­rect and man­age air­craft in our skies. Be­tween $40 mil­lion and $50 mil­lion is re­quired to in­stall the radar sys­tems,” he said.

Econ­o­mists say apart from boost­ing tourists’ ar­rivals, the devel­op­ment was in line with the Govern­ment’s thrust of trans­form­ing the re­sort town into a Spe­cial Eco­nomic Zone.

The state-of-the-art Vic­to­ria Falls air­port’s fea­tures in­clude the new in­ter­na­tional ter­mi­nal build­ing, a new four kilo­me­tres long run­way, new con­trol tower and a re­fur­bished do­mes­tic ter­mi­nal with a ca­pac­ity to han­dle 1.5 mil­lion pas­sen­gers per an­num.

The apron area has a ca­pac­ity to han­dle air­craft in the class of the B747 and equiv­a­lent. The air­port has mod­ern pas­sen­ger fa­cil­i­ties which in­clude; a com­pat­i­ble bag­gage han­dling sys­tem, Flight In­for­ma­tion Dis­play Sys­tem (FIDS) and Com­mon Use Pas­sen­ger Pro­cess­ing Sys­tem (CUPPS) sys­tem.

The project has been lauded as a crit­i­cal en­abler by the Com­mon Mar­ket for East­ern and South­ern Africa (Comesa), whose tech­nocrats vis­ited the coun­try re­cently.

Dr Abu Su­fian Dafalla, who is di­rec­tor for In­fra­struc­ture and Lo­gis­tics Di­vi­sion in Comesa, is on record say­ing the multi-mil­lion dol­lar fa­cil­ity presents a face for Africa and can be the gate­way into the re­gion.

The Govern­ment has hinted plans to achieve $5 bil­lion con­tri­bu­tion to the econ­omy from the tourism in­dus­try alone.

“We have toured the new look air­port and it’s smart and en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly. I think it re­flects a fu­ture face of Zim­babwe and will def­i­nitely be com­fort­able for vis­i­tors to come through it into the re­gion,” he said.

Chi­nese con­trac­tor, China Jiangsu won the ten­der to carry out the con­struc­tion work, which China’s Exim Bank funded through a $150 mil­lion con­ces­sion­ary loan fa­cil­ity.

In the ab­sence of radar sys­tems Cde Nduna said Zim­babwe was de­pen­dent on air traf­fic con­trollers and pi­lots to man­age and con­trol air­crafts in the coun­try’s skies.

“At the mo­ment, we are re­ly­ing on man­ual, an­ti­quated, ar­chaic and mori­bund equip­ment to con­trol air­crafts in the skies. We should ap­plaud our air traf­fic con­trollers who have had a thank­less job un­der very dif­fi­cult con­di­tions but man­ag­ing and pre­serv­ing a safety record since 1980, when we at­tained in­de­pen­dence,” he said.

The leg­is­la­tor also said his com­mit­tee would en­gage Trans­port and In­fras­truc­tural Devel­op­ment Min­is­ter Dr Jo­ram Gumbo to en­sure that com­ple­men­tary sta­teof-the-art equip­ment for fire-fight­ing was in­stalled at Vic­to­ria Falls In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

The new look Vic­to­ria Falls In­ter­na­tional Air­port. Above Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe

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