Nkomo Airport finally opens

THE NEW-LOOK Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport will finally open its doors tomorrow following pressure by President Robert Mugabe to operationalise the terminal building even though it is still under construction.

GAMMA MUDARIKIRI
OWN CORRESPIDENT

Mugabe reportedly ordered the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (Caaz) to open the airport by November 1 without fail.

Caaz yesterday issued a statement confirming that the new terminal, which has a capacity to handle 1,5 million passengers per year will be opened.

“Although the terminal is undergoing its final stages of completion, it has become absolutely necessary to operationalise the facility to allow the utilisation of the already installed systems,” part of the Caaz statement read.

The terminal has been under construction for the past 10 years.

Last week, airport manager Passmore Dewa was quoted in the State-owned media saying all key security systems were now in place and they would meet the set deadline to operationalise the facility.

The multi-million dollar project was once stopped after funds ran dry, but the government last year released $1,3 million followed by another $1 million for the purchase of communication equipment, among other things.

There are an estimated 15 contractors working on the project, refurbishing the international arrivals’ hall, building a variety of shops, a car park and a separate State pavilion, but progress has been stalled by financial constraints.

According to Caaz, the project is 95% complete, but requires in excess of $2,5 million for final touches.

The cash-strapped government, however, is struggling to finance capital projects as 70% of the budget is swallowed by civil servants’ salaries.

The project was initially scheduled to be completed in December 2004, but had been pending until Mugabe put pressure on the facility to be completed.

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