Prosper Ndlovu in Dubai, UAE
THE Joshua Mqabuko and Victoria Falls International airports are earmarked for major infrastructure upgrades this year while plans are underway to establish solar farms at both facilities to enhance energy cost efficiency in line with global green climate solutions.
The upgrading of aviation infrastructure is a top priority under the National Development Strategy (NDS1:2021-2025) and this is viewed as a key enabler to attracting investments, luring international flights as well as promoting a vibrant tourism industry.
Improved efficiencies in the two ports of entry are also critical in connecting the region with regional and international markets, which promotes positive country image.
Treasury has already allocated resources through the national budget to finance the ongoing upgrade projects.
In an interview here on the sidelines of the Zimbabwe Tourism and Infrastructure Finance Conference, Airports Company of Zimbabwe (ACZ) Private Limited chief executive officer, Mr Tawanda Gusha, said some of the upgrade works in Bulawayo were already underway.
“We need to rehabilitate the runway in Bulawayo because firstly it is old and now shorter for the requirements of modern standards,” he said.
“We also need to upgrade the runway lighting system and this year you will see us also constructing the air control tower.
“At the moment the one that is there is being obstructed by the new terminal building and the upgrade is meant to ensure that this tower has 360 degrees views.
“We have got the budget of about Z$2,7 billion from the national budget for the projects and we will be doing these this year,” said Mr Gusha.
He explained that embracing solar was a strategic move for the company, which would assist the entity to cut on power costs while enhancing environmental sustainability in terms of producing clean energy.
“We are working on establishing a solar farm for JMN and Victoria Falls and our aim is to have this to enhance savings in terms of power costs while we also go green and contributing to environmental friendly operations,” said Mr Gusha.
He quickly clarified that currently the solar projects initiative was at proposal stage and that the entity was working on seeking expressions of interest to secure proposals from interested bidders.
Outside the major infrastructure upgrades, Mr Gusha said the ACZ has recently finished smaller projects such as sewer reticulation upgrade at the JMN airport and would soon be pushing water reticulation system upgrades.
The interventions also extend to building of hangers for aircraft storage.
The rehabilitation of the two airports is part of the several capital development interventions in Matabeleland region, which have gained momentum under the Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa.
Similar upgrades are being undertaken at the Robert Mugabe International Airport where massive terminal upgrades are underway with focus also on other small airports.
Article Source: The Chronicle