RG MUGABE AIRPORT IS BORN Massive upgrade to match President’s stature underway President grateful for latest honour
THE Harare International Airport was yesterday renamed the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport and will undergo massive rehabilitation to match the stature of President Mugabe, a global icon.
Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joram Gumbo said Government had since negotiated with China Jiangsu International that refurbished Victoria Falls International Airport to work on the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.
“I am pleased to inform you, Your Excellency, that in order to match your stature, the airport will soon undergo a massive rehabilitation and development programme. The rehabilitation process will include, among others, construction of three additional aero bridges, a new fire station, a modern terminal building and a new VVIP pavilion,” said Minister Gumbo.
“Negotiations for the financing of the project are progressing well and nearing completion and we expect the work to commence before the end of the year. The contractor, China Jiangsu International who did us proud at the Victoria Falls International Airport has vowed to outdo themselves on this project as befitting your stature.”
Minister Gumbo said his ministry was now working on an Airports Development Master Plan to be shared with the rest of the Government.
“The plan will guide aviation development in the country, in pursuit of our goal of creating a hub of aviation services in the country. My Ministry is pursuing alternative and innovative funding modalities to ensure that the plan comes to fruition,” he said.
In renaming the airport as RG Mugabe International Airport, Minister Gumbo said, the ministry was implementing a decision of the Zanu-PF conference to name the country’s biggest and busiest airport in honour of the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.
Local Government, Public Works and National IN his address to the gathering, President Mugabe thanked the nation for honouring him.
“On behalf of Government and the people of Zimbabwe and on my own behalf I want to thank most sincerely the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development for the honour bestowed on me by renaming the Harare International Airport the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport,” he said.
President Mugabe added that Government recognised the importance of air transport to the country’s economic growth.
“It is indeed a great honour for me and I am humbled by this gesture. My Government recognises that air transport is pivotal to the economic growth of our country and we have been debating this issue of economic growth, the issue of development, the issue encompassing all our people and try to improve their condition.
“While transport in general accelerates the movement of people and goods in a cost effective way, air transport facilitates and promotes national and regional trade, tourism, investment, and integration,” President Mugabe said.
He commended the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development for completing various projects that include the upgrading of Victoria Falls International Airport, which can now handle 1,5 million passengers annually from 500 000.
Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere said his Ministry would collaborate with the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development to ensure the availability of additional land for the expansion of the airport.
“This development signifies exciting times ahead especially for our aviation and tourism sectors and the country at large. Visitors and tourists from Europe, Asia among others now fly directly into the country to experience one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Mighty Mosi oa Tunya, the Victoria Falls.
“We therefore would like to commend the ministry for coming up with various initiatives and projects that meaningfully and immensely contribute to our country’s economic development,” President Mugabe said.
He added that Government was committed to assisting the ministry in accessing funding for various projects to grow the transport sector including expansion of various airports across the country.
President Mugabe said the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development had various exciting projects lined up.
“I want you to keep your appetite up and expect surprises that will come our way. Madyira panze vaJoram (Gumbo; Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development) hava dyire mumba, I Gumbo kwete rimwe chete, kwete maviri anotenge matatu kana mana,” he said drawing laughter from the crowd.
He reiterated his gratitude on behalf of himself, his family and the entire country on the honour bestowed on him saying it has brought joy to all Zimbabweans.
The Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport was built in 1956 and was commissioned in 1957 mainly to serve colonialists.
It was renamed Harare International Airport from Salisbury International Airport at independence.
“As this airport is set for further expansion, we will continue to work with the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development to ensure that the land required for future expansion is made available,” said Minister Kasukuwere.
“This airport is part of your legacy, wise leadership and you have given priority to infrastructure and utility development in the country for the entirety of the people of Zimbabwe.”
Minister Kasukuwere said the airport was renowned for its distinctive conical tower which he described as landmark.
“For visitors it is their first glimpse of Zimbabwe. For those returning from their trips, it is a welcome first sight of home. As you are the face of Zimbabwe, it is only befitting that this airport be named after you, we want to express our gratitude to you for accepting this honour bestowed on you by your grateful nation. It is therefore appropriate that the airport be named after an illustrious son of Zimbabwe,” Minister Kasukuwere said.
Minister of State for Harare Provincial Affairs, Miriam Chikukwa said the renaming of the airport demonstrated the pride by Zimbabweans in President Mugabe She said Harare was honoured to host the airport. “I am, therefore, delighted that with this renaming, the airport will soon undergo a development programme, which will make immense contribution to the achievement of the goals and objectives of the country’s economic blueprint, Zim-Asset within the infrastructure and utilities cluster,” said Cde Chikukwa.
President Mugabe unveils a plaque to mark the official renaming of the Harare International Airport to Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in his honour in Harare yesterday. Flanking him is Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo. - (Picture by Presidential Photographer Joseph Nyadzayo)
The Robert Mugabe International Airport