Govt restructures CAAZ: President
Innocent Ruwende in VICTORIA FALLS—
Government is restructuring the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) to separate regulatory from airports management functions in line with international best practices, the President has said.While commissioning the refurbished Victoria Falls International Airport yesterday, President Mugabe said this would provide scope for private sector participation in airport operations.
“Government is committed to enhance safety and security of aviation in Zimbabwe. To this end, we are in the process of restructuring CAAZ as we aim to separate regulatory and airports management functions in line with international best practices,” said the President.
“This will not only enhance safety and security compliance, but will also provide scope for private sector participation in airport operations in Zimbabwe. My Government recognises that air transport is pivotal to the economic growth of our country. Air transport inasmuch as it facilitates trade and tourism, also fosters regional integration.
“Now that Victoria Falls Airport is complete, I urge the ministry to move to achieving our aim of making Zimbabwe the regional hub of Southern Africa,” he said.
The President said whenever the country undertook projects, it should insist that they be of high quality and that they were completed within a specific time frame.
He said China Jiagsu International, which carried out the project, met the requirements and commended it for being professional and efficient.
He said in 2012, China provided Zimbabwe with a $150 million concessionary loan facility through China Exim Bank which enabled the airport upgrading project to take off in April 2013.
“After the completion of this project, visitors and tourists from Europe, Asia, the Middle East, among others, fly directly into Victoria Falls. They can now experience one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
“There are advanced plans for several airlines to fly directly to Victoria Falls,” he said.
Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo said the Victoria Falls Airport was one of the anchor projects under the Infrastructure and Utilities Cluster of Zim Asset.
“The scope of the work carried out involved the construction of a new 4km runway, international terminal building, fire station, control tower, installation of state of the art specialist aviation equipment and upgrading of the current airport wing into a domestic terminal building.”
“I am pleased to inform you, your Excellency, that the contractor, China Jiangsu International, did a commendable job of constructing this elegant and imposing structure that meets international standards.”
Dr Gumbo said the airport was the third to be commissioned after Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Airport in Bulawayo in 2013 and Buffalo Range commissioned last year with support from Tongaat Hullet and Malilangwe Trust.
He said his ministry was working on an airports development masterplan which would be shared with the rest of Government.
“Due to budgetary constraints, my ministry is pursuing alternative and innovative funding modalities to ensure that our plans come to reality. It is in this context that I appeal to air transport travellers to expect a modest increase in the airport departure tax starting 1 January 2017. We need the funds to keep up this momentum,” he said.
The airport now has a capacity to handle 1,5 million passengers per year, up from the previous 500 000.
The new runway can accommodate wide-bodied aircraft such as the Airbus A340, Boeing 777 and Boeing 787.
Vice Presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa, Phekezela Mphoko, Ministers Saviour kasukuwere, Obert Mpofu, Miriam Chikukwa and Cain Mathema were among the dignitaries who witnessed the event.
Also present were Speaker of Parliament Adv Jacob Mudhenda, Deputy Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry Cde Annastacia Ndlovu, the chairperson of parliamentary committee on Transport Cde Dexter Nduna and Warren Park MP Eng Elias Mudzuri.