Beitbridge to get US$100m airport

Source: Beitbridge to get US$100m airport | The Herald

Beitbridge to get US$100m airport
Beitbridge Aerodrome which is going to be upgraded to an airport following the modernisation of the border post

Mashudu Netsianda recently in BEITBRIDGE

BEITBRIDGE is set to have a state-of-the-art airport to match the standards of the modernised border post as the Second Republic steps up efforts to transform the face of the border town.

Beitbridge, one of the busiest border posts in Africa, relies on a dusty aerodrome for light aircraft.

The border post not only connects Zimbabwe and South Africa, but also serves as a transit point for the majority of north-south trade in Southern Africa.

The notable infrastructure development is one of scores taking place countrywide as the country moves towards attaining an upper middle-income economy by 2030.

President Mnangagwa announced the construction of the airport during the commissioning of the US$300 million Beitbridge Border Post upgrade and modernisation last Wednesday.

The Beitbridge Border Post upgrade and modernisation, being implemented under a public-private-partnership model, has set the tone for the implementation of more infrastructure development under that arrangement.

“I was talking to the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development (Felix Mhona) that the little aerodrome which is in Beitbridge is not suitable for this modernised town. I have agreed with him to identify another place to build a new airport,” he said amid thunderous cheers from the audience.

The Government, the President said, had started working on the processes leading to the construction of the airport.

In 2018, the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Responsible for Monitoring Implementation of Government Programmes, Dr Joram Gumbo, who was then Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister, toured the proposed site with a team from the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe.

The proposed airport will be located at Makhavhane area, about 20km out of the border town.

It is proposed that the airport, to be undertaken at an estimated cost of US$100 million, will be constructed under the build, operate and transfer concept. The airport will serve as a dry port for international trade.

President Mnangagwa said it is critical for developments at border posts to be augmented by other infrastructure for the efficient transportation of goods, movement of people and provision of services.

“In that vein, my Government remains committed to ensuring that our major highways and feeder roads are speedily modernised. Riding on the notable successes made by local companies on the Beitbridge-Harare Road, we are determined to move on to modernise the Harare-Chirundu and Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls roads,” he said.

President Mnangagwa said once the Beitbridge Border Post upgrade and modernisation is completed, plans are underway for the construction of a new bridge.

“What will follow after the completion of this project is the construction of a new bridge, which is now under consideration. The Beitbridge Border Post modernisation and upgrade was inspired by the fact that Beitbridge Border Post is the busiest point of entry into our country, handling the largest volume of traffic into Southern Africa,” he said.

“However, after the modernisation of this border post, traffic will easily travel from the south to the north, which means we also need to modernise Chirundu Border Post and ZimBorders is willing to take over the project.”

The deal between Government and ZimBorders was named one of the well-structured investment deals of the year 2020. It was also awarded the winning accolade of Global Trade Review Global Deal of the Year Award for Optimisation and Rehabilitation.

President Mnangagwa said the Beitbridge Border Post upgrade and modernisation will be replicated at all other border posts.

“It is also necessary that we address bottlenecks at other border posts such as Forbes, which connects us with Mozambique, and Plumtree connecting us with Botswana as well as Victoria Falls, which has since been ameliorated by Kazungula Border Post.

“All these will be modernised and from the Zimbabwean side, we guarantee that they are going to be modernised by the Second Republic,” he said.

President Mnangagwa said since the modernisation of Beitbridge Border Post, there has been an increase in revenue inflows.

“The Minister of Finance and Economic Development (Professor Mthuli Ncube) has told me that revenue at the modernised Beitbridge Border Post has tripled. There has been massive economic growth at the Beitbridge Border Post,” he said.

The President said Beitbridge, by virtue of being the face of the country, should be kept clean.

“Beitbridge is the face of the country so I challenge the council to ensure that garbage is collected. I am also directing the mayor and councillors to make sure that every year, residents must facelift their houses to match the beauty of the modernised border post,” he said.

“We introduced every first Friday of the month as a national clean-up day. Border posts must therefore be treated more stringently than inner towns and cities because these are the face of the country.”

Under the Beitbridge Border Post upgrade and modernisation, the sewer oxidation plant was upgraded and it will enable the local authority to manage waste and refuse in a more environmentally sustainable manner.

In 2018, President Mnangagwa undertook to transform the Beitbridge Border Post in partnership with the ZimBorders Consortium.

The border upgrade and modernisation is being implemented in three phases and work is expected to wind up in April next year. The project is a 17-and-a-half-year concession between the Government and the ZimBorders Consortium.

ZimBorders will manage the port of entry and maintain it for the duration of the concession and earn back its invested money from border use fees. Upon completion, the modernised port of entry will not only address efficiency and security issues, but also speed up the implementation of the One-Stop-Border Post concept between South Africa and Zimbabwe.

This concept has since 2006 failed to take off due to a number of challenges, among them bureaucracy in the two countries.

Under the One-Stop-Border Post, the two countries sharing a border harmonise their operations to simplify the way of business and travellers are cleared once for passage into either country rather than having to repeat the whole process as they cross the line.