Joshua Nkomo Airport progress welcome

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THE operationalisation of the new Joshua Mqabuko International Airport terminal on Friday is a welcome development despite the fact that the project is still not complete 10 years after it was started.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) succumbed to pressure to open the terminal that is said to be 95% complete amid reports that President Robert Mugabe was losing patience.

CAAZ has assured passengers that all key security systems had been put in place for the airport to function normally even though finishing touches have to be made.

The project, which is one of many meant to honour the life of the late Vice-president Joshua Nkomo, was initially set to be completed in 2004, but was delayed by lack of resources.

There are an estimated 15 contractors working on the project that includes the refurbishment of the international arrivals’ hall, a variety of shops, a car park and a separate State pavilion.

Other than honouring the legacy of Nkomo, one of the founders of the nationalist movement in Zimbabwe and a nation builder, the airport project is meant to boost the tourism industry in Bulawayo and the Matabeleland region in general.

The region has been crying out for infrastructure development, which should ideally act as an incentive for investors to put their money in the region to realise its full economic potential.

Other projects in Nkomo’s name that are yet to be completed include a statue being erected on Main Street and the Ekusileni Hospital in Hillside, which has been lying idle for years now.

Nkomo had also managed to source equipment for canning factories to be set up in Matabeleland South to empower local people, but all that is going to waste because no one in the government has bothered to preserve Father Zimbabwe’s legacy.

The opening of the airport terminal should reinvigorate the government to complete all projects meant to ensure that Nkomo’s name does not die.

Ideally the airport and the statue should act as a drawcard for tourists and this would go a long way in reviving the economy of the region.