PRESIDENT Mnangagwa is expected to tour the ongoing expansion of the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport today as part of the Second Republic infrastructure development programme and in line with the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1).
Under the NDS1, the project is expected to be completed by June next year and indications from the Chinese contractors as well as local engineers show that the project is progressing within the desired timeframe notwithstanding delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona confirmed the tour.
“Indeed the President will tour the airport tomorrow (today) to have an appreciation of the work being carried out. This is part of his supervisory role to assess progress on various projects consistent with his desire to ensure that the Second Republic attain Vision 2030 and National Development Strategy 1,” said Minister Mhona.
The US$153 million project will add a new international terminal building and aprons, four new bridges, a secondary radar system, a VVIP pavilion and an airfield ground lighting and communication system, among other things.
Presently the Second Republic, under President Mnangagwa, is seized with modernising its infrastructure at domestic and international airports to ensure more international airlines come to Zimbabwe.
Just last month, the country’s tourism industry received a massive boost after Qatar Airways introduced flights into Zimbabwe, following other major airlines that have been flying into the country since the New Dispensation.
Qatar Airways’ move follows the recent coming in of Lufthansa Airlines, which flies to Victoria Falls.
In the aviation sector, Qatar Airways and Lufthansa Airlines are among the biggest in the world, both in terms of fleet and business.
Minister Mhona recently toured the project and expressed satisfaction.
“I am delighted after having toured this magnificent project. What I really wanted to monitor is the time frame because we want to deliver according to the National Development Strategy 1 so that we meet our desired targets. We have seen the concrete work is on 90 percent completion while the roof is about 80 percent complete,” he said.
China Jiangsu International project manager Mr Weiwei said the Covid-19 pandemic hindered progress, but they had since resumed operations and work was progressing well.
“We suffered a one-year delay because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but next month, we will finish inside work and this time next year we will be completing the new expansions and we will start on refurbishments of existing terminals. We are very confident that we will deliver a good product to this country.”
Acting chief executive for Airports Company of Zimbabwe, Mr Tawanda Gusha, said they were anticipating a growth in air travel.
“The international terminal and the domestic terminal buildings will also be refurbished with the project increasing the airport’s holding capacity to six million people per annum from 2,5 million,’’ he said.