via Bufallo Range airport in sorry state: official 20 August 2014
THE Buffalo Range Airport in Masvingo is in a deplorable state and must be upgraded urgently to meet regional standards, a senior government official has said.
Munesu Munodawafa, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development, made the remarks while on a visit to Mutare recently.
Munodawafa said Buffalo Range was the gate-way to the Transfrontier Park, a giant national park that stretches across three countries – from the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe, Kruger National Park in South Africa and right into Mozambique.
He said standards at Buffalo Range had plummeted and the airport was now lagging behind similar airports in the Transfrontier zone.
“We need to upgrade Buffalo Range because it opens us to the Transfontier with Mozambique and South Africa. As things stand now we believe our counterparts (Mozambique and South Africa) are ahead of us,” said Munodawafa.
He said the terminal building at Bufallo Range was not up to standard considering the kind of tourists that frequent the area.
“If you look at the kind of tourists that go there, they are exclusive. That’s where Shakira went when she went to South Africa. This is the place where Bill Gates went to the other time, so we want to cater for that type of tourists,” he said.
Munodawafa’s statement came as a kick in the face for Manicaland hospitality and tourism players who were pestering the government to upgrade the Grand Reef Aerodrome in Mutare.
Tourism players in the Eastern Highlands, the hub of tourism in Zimbabwe, want the government to upgrade the Grand Reef Aerodrome to a state-of-the-art airport to cater for domestic and international visitors.
They also said the non-availability of an air service has impacted negatively on the development and growth of tourism in the province.
But Munodawafa was frank and told the tourism players that the government was broke and not in a position to prioritise the Mutare airport project at the moment.
“We are fully aware that we need to develop domestic tourism but the bottom line is we have limited resources,” he said.
“We decided to do these projects in phases. We have been working on the Harare International Airport. We completed the Joshua Nkomo Airport (in Bulawayo) last year and we are commissioning it in December.
“Now we are working on Victoria Falls and as we speak we have opened the Harare-Kariba route through Air Zimbabwe.”