The US$153 million expansion of the terminal at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare is on course for completion in June as scheduled, a move which has been welcomed by travellers as very progressive.
Construction at the main terminal is almost complete and only a few final touches are being made while the state-of-the-art VVIP pavilion is also almost ready.
The new arrivals and departure sections will be opened to the public anytime this year while the rehabilitation of the existing international and domestic terminal buildings will also be carried out.
The Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport modernisation drive is one of the flagship projects being implemented by the Second Republic under the leadership of President Mnangagwa, who has placed emphasis on high impact projects in line with the National Development Strategy 1.
On completion, the airport will become a regional aviation hub able to handle about 6 million passengers annually, from the present 2,5 million.
The upgrading of the RGM International Airport is expected to see more international airlines opening routes into Harare and a corresponding increase in tourist arrivals.
Under the Second Republic, the Government is pioneering a number of key projects in line with President Mnangagwa’s vision of attaining an upper middle-income economy by 2030.
Yesterday, the Airports Company of Zimbabwe (Private) Limited (ACZ) board chair Dr James Tsabora and chief executive officer Mr Tawanda Gusha led Government officials and journalists on a tour of the airport.
Dr Tsabora confirmed that completion of the expansion of the airport was set for June.
“We are happy to be here and it’s a good space because we are on course for completion which is set for June. I think our discussion with the contractors and even our engineers is positive.
“It shows that we are successfully going to complete this project, come June. There is massive work that has been done and once this whole development has been done, we are going to more than double passenger capacity from 2,5 million to 6 million annually.
“We need that for tourism and basic economic development. There is no country that is serious with developing its economy which ignores its critical infrastructure. So airports, just like roads, just like rail, are critical for development and we will make sure that we get there through the airports,” he said.
Dr Tsabora said they will soon move to expand other airports countrywide.
“So we are happy that progress has
been made and the Second Republic is delivering in terms of its own priorities of National Development Strategy 1.”
Dr Tsabora said flights and passengers arriving by air had also increased since the beginning of last year with several airlines considering Zimbabwe as their destination.
ACZ CEO Mr Gusha said the RGMI airport expansion project was progressing very well and they had purchased more equipment which was on its way.
“The Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport developmental project is progressing very well. We are currently waiting for passenger facilitation equipment which has been ordered and some of it is under manufacture while some of it is already on the way so that it comes and is installed.
“What we are targeting is to open the new infrastructure by June this year and we close off the current infrastructure for refurbishment. As you know we are also increasing the passenger handling capacity of the terminal building, we are adding additional aero bridges,” he said.
Mr Gusha said they were also adding the baggage handling systems which have also been placed on order and will be installed as soon as they arrive in the country.
“As we were walking around we could see that a lot of equipment has been installed, such as escalators. We are in the process of installing surveillance systems.
“You will see the CCTVs are already in place, passenger processing equipment such as check-in counters as well as flight information displays are also being installed as we speak.
“So we are almost complete with the implementation of the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport developmental project,” Mr Gusha said.
When completed, Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport will have four new aero bridges, secondary radar system, a VIP pavilion, airfield ground lighting and a communication system among other things.
So far progress which has been made includes the completion of the runways and taxiways, decoration of new terminal buildings, procurement and installation of equipment such as secondary radar, boarding aero bridges, baggage handling system, docking system and scanners, among others.
Travellers and some Zimbabweans based in the diaspora hailed the latest developments.
In an interview, Mr Brian Mupindu, a Zimbabwean now living in New Zealand, said: “I was last here more than a decade ago and I am actually surprised with the level of development that is taking place in our country.”
Another traveller, Mr Ray Matanhire, applauded the Government for the progress it is making in infrastructural development.
“We appreciate the works being done by the Second Republic in ensuring that infrastructure in the country conforms with global trends,” he said.
Ms Thokozile Sithole said the new terminal with state of the art equipment would be a relief to all travellers both local and international.
“The old terminal is clearly outdated so this new terminal will definitely be a relief to us travellers as it is in sync with world standards.
“The world over, they have state of the art equipment at their airports and this is a good move by the Zimbabwean Government,” she said.
Mr Jacob Moyo said: “We are very excited with this development and we are looking forward to using the new terminal which will clearly provide world class services.”
Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona recently said he was happy with the progress at the airport as the teams were working day and night.