Govt struggles to fix Nkomo airport


THE government is still struggling to raise $15 million to complete the upgrading of the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport (JMN), more than a year after it was commissioned by President Robert Mugabe.


Mugabe commissioned the airport terminal on December 22 2013 amid pomp and funfare.

The airport upgrade, along with erection of statue in Bulawayo and the renaming of Main Street into Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Street, was done to preserve the legacy of the liberation icon.

However, the upgrading of the former Bulawayo International Airport has dragged on for over a decade, raising questions about the government’s commitment to honour Nkomo.

Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe public relations manager Anna-Julia Hungwe said a lot of work was still outstanding at the airport.

“For the air traffic control tower we need $9 million, for the fire station we need $4 million whereas for dualisation of access roads we need $2 million, but funds have not been secured,” she said.

Hungwe said the upgrading of the airport was part of a programme to spruce up all the country’s major airports.

“The Civil Aviation Authority’s role, among other roles, is to develop, maintain and market airports infrastructure,” she said.

“This applies to all our airports in Zimbabwe including the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport.”

The JMN International Airport has the capacity to handle 1,5 million passengers annually when complete.

The new terminal has a capacity to handle an average of 6 000 aircraft per year and 10 planes at any given time.

But only three airlines, South Africa Airlink, flyAfrica and Air Zimbabwe use the airport.

SA Airlink, a South African Airways service and flyAfrica, ply the Bulawayo-Johannesburg route daily. Air Zimbabwe flies to Harare and the resort town of Victoria Falls.