Africa Moyo Senior Business Reporter
Government has drawn-down $45,9 million, representing 30 percent of the total project cost for upgrading and modernisation of the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.
The RGM International Airport modernisation will cost $153 million, which is being provided as a concessional loan facility by the China Eximbank.
Works began in earnest last August.
China Jiangsu International, the firm which won the bid to refresh the aesthetics of RGM International Airport, has already moved on site to undertake the mammoth project.
Last week, various pieces of raw materials for use in the expansion project were delivered, paving the way for accelerating the upgrade.
Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) director of airports Mr Tawanda Gusha, told The Herald Business recently that 30 percent of the total project cost has since been drawn-down.
“In terms of the upgrade and modernisation of the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, we have so far drawn-down 30 percent of the total project cost. It was drawn-down sometime in mid-December (last year) and it is being used for site mobilisation as well as procurement of equipment,” said Mr Gusha.
He explained that they are currently “at project start-up” where they are “doing excavations, digging foundations for the terminal building (to) start works on the runway”.
Added Mr Gusha: “The next stage will be light works to finish off runway rehabilitation”.
Works started by levelling the VVIP side, where two aero bridges will be erected, and will then move to cover rest of the airport to ensure flights are not affected.
Upon completion, the RGM International Airport is expected to gain a competitive edge over its neighbours who are continuously upgrading their main gateways.
The US$153 million airport facelift will bring in new technologies and efficiency in the facilitation of passengers, aircraft and cargo. Three additional aero bridges, a new satellite fire station, a modern terminal building and a new VVIP pavilion are some of the key features to be added to the RG Mugabe International Airport.
Passenger handling capacity will also rise to six million per annum from the current 2,5 million.
The car park will also be transformed into a multi-storey facility with capacity to handle hundreds of vehicles.
The runway, which is 4,725km long and 46 metres wide, would be extended to allow for concurrent multiple landings.
At the moment, planes land one at a time.
Government believes renovating the RGM International Airport would grow passenger and aircraft movement into the country.
The US$153 million loan agreement for the airport upgrade was signed on April 4 last year and in May. Parliament approved the modernisation of the airport after former Finance and Economic Planning Minister Patrick Chinamasa had moved the motion seeking ratification of the major expansion project.
The concessional loan facility has a seven-year grace period, an annual 2 percent interest rate, 0,25 percent commission fees and management fees pegged at the same rate.
It has a tenure of 20 years inclusive of the seven-year grace period.
Funders of the project, China Eximbank, also provided the US$150 million loan used to upgrade the Victoria Falls International Airport, where passenger arrivals have skyrocketed.
Equally, China Jiangsu was the contractor for the Victoria Falls International Airport rehabilitation.
Government has made the rehabilitation of aviation infrastructure across the country a top priority. The RGM International Airport upgrade is expected to be concluded in 36 months.
CAAZ has indicated that it has set aside US$400 million for the refurbishment of all airports and eventually construct new ones, especially in Beitbridge and Mutare.