THE Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) management was yesterday grilled by parliamentarians over its preference for Chinese equipment and materials in the construction of the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Airport roof in Bulawayo and Victoria Falls Airport.
The CAAZ board and management appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development where chairperson Dextor Nduna said when the committee visited the airport they found some of the pipes, tubes and cement that was used came from China instead of being sourced locally.
CAAZ general manager David Chawota said the quantities of cement that were required for the runways were quite huge and local suppliers such as PPC and La Farge could not meet the quantities required on their own.
“The roofing materials had such things as bolts and nuts imported from China and are you telling us that locally our engineers had failed to design such a roof?” Nduna queried.
Chawota said the quality of steel that Zimbabwe manufactured was not found suitable for the roof and they had to get it from South Africa, while the bolts and nuts were imported from China.
“Ziscosteel could not do that roof, and the bolts and nuts that were being put at Victoria Falls Airport are not locally available — we do not have the capacity to produce that kind of roof,” Chawota argued.
He said CAAZ was looking for $11 million to complete phase three of the rehabilitation of runways and taxiways, saying the project had been stopped due to lack of funding.
The MPs felt the project should be treated as a matter of urgency to ensure that there was no debris on the runways that could disturb planes.
“We need $5,5 million to repair the shoulders, and the chances of getting that amount are now high because as we speak we may get $2 million from FBC soon,” Chawota said.
CAAZ financial director John Masuku disclosed that while the authority was riddled with financial problems, it could still be a going concern if air traffic and the number of passengers improved.
“Harare International Airport has 75% passengers throughput, Victoria Falls 16%, and Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo 6%. The network is operating at 22% capacity having revenues of $2,6 million per month yet the expenditure is $5,6 million per month. The huge expenses we incur are salaries that take 46% to 56% of revenue.”
He said although CAAZ could be said to be technically insolvent, it had chances of growing.
“Our current liabilities are more than our current assets, and the danger is overdue liabilities cannot be paid from assets because there will be litigation which can lead us to insolvency. Our legacy loans are $180 million and they are not supported by any assets,” he said.
Masuku said in total they had a $250 million debt overhang yet they needed recapitalisation.
Meanwhile, the Mines and Energy committee chucked out State Procurement Board boss Charles Kuwaza again after he disrespected the committee saying they should have order.