China Ploughs US$37m into Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport Expansion

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In a quest to ensure further development of Zimbabwe’ biggest airport, Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport (RGMIA) enabling it with the capacity to handle bigger passenger numbers and cargo volumes, CHINA Exim Bank has deployed US$37,5 million to fund its rehabilitation and expansion, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube recently said.

The funding is part of a US$153 million deal agreed with the Chinese lender over five years ago.

It brings to US$300 million the funding committed to Zimbabwe’s two biggest airports since 2016, when the Chinese helped Zimbabwe complete the US$150 million Victoria Falls International Airport expansion, which increased its capacity to 1,5 million from 500 000 passengers a year.

This news was revealed last week Thursday in an update on the state of Zimbabwe’s major infrastructure redevelopment projects during a presentation of the mid-term fiscal policy review on Thursday, Ncube said the airport would be completed in 2023.

Ncube explained that efforts to revamp the nation’s biggest airport were at advanced stages with 78 percent complete and the developments are expected to reach completion in 2023.

To date, a total of US$37,3 million has been disbursed towards the RG Mugabe International Airport from the US$153 million China Exim Bank loan facility,” he said.

Landside works are now at 35% completion with current works concentrated on the international and domestic terminal buildings as well as construction of the new VVIP pavilion.

The runway is at 78% completion with laying of asphalt on the runway carriageway and shoulders completed while work on the aprons is in progress. The project is now rescheduled for completion in 2023,” he said.

In line with the airport upgrade programme, across the country, District Development initiatives such as at Chapoto, Binga, Kanyemba, Tokwe Mukosi and Buffalo Range airstrips have been targeted by government for renovation and expansion in proximity to regions earmarked as tourism hotspots.

Ncube said the cash-strapped Air Zimbabwe had resumed operations following a reconstruction scheme indicating that efficiencies are set to be boosted by its merger with the National Handling Services which manages passenger and cargo at the airports.

“The scheme of reconstruction for Air Zimbabwe was successfully concluded in June 2021, allowing for the resumption of operations for the airline guided by the strategic six-year turn-around plan and the 2021 business revival plan,” Ncube said.

Additionally, the Treasury Chief highlighted that the effective implementation and execution of the airline’s turn around plans will ensure that it acquires the requisite equipment, expands its route network, invests in appropriate information communication technology systems and strengthens its competitiveness, through the strategic deployment of a lean and highly committed and professional workforce.

Furthermore, the remerging of the National Handling Services with the national airline will ensure the in-house execution of airline services for effective cost management and self-sustainability,” the Treasury Chief said.

The airport modernisation and expansion is also in line with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s efforts aimed at improving the face of Zimbabwe’s tourism sector ensuring its recovery.


By Joyce Mukucha

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