The US$153 million expansion of the terminal at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport will be completed by mid-next year, with two shuttle buses commissioned yesterday in anticipation of increased traffic once the upgrade ends.
In terms of the airport upgrading, construction is almost complete and just a few final touches are being conducted, while construction of a state-of-the-art VVIP Pavilion is now at an advanced stage.
The arrivals and departure sections are set be opened to the public by year end.
The Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport modernisation is one of the flagship projects being implemented by the Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa, which emphasises high impact projects in line with the National Development Strategy 1.
On completion, the airport will become a regional aviation hub able to handle about six million passengers annually, from the present 2,5 million.
The upgrade of the RGM International Airport is expected to see more international airlines opening routes into Harare and a corresponding increase in tourist arrivals.
Under the Second Republic, the Government is pioneering a number of key projects in line with President Mnangagwa’s vision of attaining an upper middle-income economy by 2030.
Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona, yesterday led a delegation and toured the RGM International Airport, before commissioning the two air-side shuttle buses procured by the Airports Company of Zimbabwe (Private) Limited (ACZ).
Minister Mhona said the procurement and launch of the two buses coincided with the massive airport upgrade, which has become one of the glamorous emblems of the Second Republic.
He said the airport shuttle buses would bring convenience to travellers as well as ensuring smooth turnarounds through quick processing of arrivals and on-time departures, thus decongesting spaces, circumventing delays and costs.
“I would like to first acknowledge and give credit to President Mnangagwa, the visionary leader who then said ‘let’s have this kind of an infrastructure so that we promote the issues to do with hospitality in terms of our guests, those who are domestic and those who are international’,” said Minister Mhona.
“We are here today (yesterday) to witness a wonderful development in terms of the buses that we have acquired. These are apron buses that will facilitate easy movement of people as they disembark from our planes so that they then, those who are remaining in the country and those who are also connecting, would also use the same buses.”
The minister said officials from Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade were taking part in ensuring that the VVIP lounge currently under construction was in compliance with expectations pertaining to the VVIP pavilion.
“We have been busy with painting and tiling but now we are done especially on the arrivals and we are now working on the departure section. And the idea is to open simultaneously the departure and the arrivals sections then we will be seized in trying to refurbish the existing structure that we have and also the domestic terminal,’’ he said.
“But I can say by end of this year, in terms of the structure we will be done. What we will be left with will be issues to do with the connectivity in terms of the equipment within the airport. But I am happy to say that by mid-2023 June, this is our target, this infrastructure will be complete,” the minister said.
By end of this year, the departure and arrival sections would have been opened.
The minister said he was happy with the progress as the teams were working day and night.
Minister Mhona urged the ACZ and stakeholders to maintain the momentum and ensure that as the airport grows, they also grow the fleet of shuttle buses, taking advantage of the Government’s policy thrust towards smart, carbon-emission free, electric vehicles.
It was commendable that ACZ was taking advantage of this opportunity and gearing up for increased airline travel, as the industry continues to recover from the negative effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
ACZ chief executive Mr Tawanda Gusha said the shuttle buses they have were procured in 2006 and they had seen it necessary to procure two more shuttle buses.
“We want our airports to be functional and operational since we now have more international flights coming into the country,” he said.