Airport Expansion to Boost Tourism

| May 20, 2015

Bango Trading has been awarded a tender to refurbish Selebi Phikwe airport at a cost of P14.7 million.

The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between SPEDU and Bango Trading to facilitate the beginning of the airport refurbishment project took place on May 18 at the SPEDU offices.

Speaking at the signing of the MoU, the newly appointed chief executive officer for SPEDU, Dr Mokubung Mokubung urged Bango Trading to complete the project within stipulated time and budget to avoid escalation of costs and any setbacks.

“We should be serious with the implementation of this project,” he said. He said the Selebi Phikwe airport project was important to the region and had been identified as one of the strategic areas of development in support of the economic diversification drive and promotion of key economic opportunities such as tourism and other businesses.

He said after the airport project had been completed they would approach airlines such as Air Botswana and South African Airways among others to use it.

This, he said, would be highly beneficial to commuters and would promote business in the area because with reliable and fast transport system in the region business was bound to sky rocket.

Meanwhile, giving the background of the project, SPEDU Mining, Infrastructure and Manufacturing manager, Mr Theodore Seemule said that the Regional Tourism Study identified the need for enhanced access to the region by rail, road and air.

In this regard, he said a recommendation was made for the expansion of the airport, and SPEDU working with BCL Limited and Civil Aviation Authority Botswana sourced out funds from Re-Employment Account (REA) for a feasibility study of the expansion of the airport project.

He said Aurecon Botswana was engaged in 2014 to carry out the study and made recommendations that the refurbishment of airport runway was critical to avert the closure of the facility.

“SPEDU sourced out REA-Funding in December last year, and the services of contractors and consultants were procured,” he said adding that Bango Trading and NMA consultants emerged the winning bidders.

For his part, the managing director of Bango Trading, Mr Moffat James told BOPA in an interview that the refurbishment project is expected to be complete by August this year. He said the major works of the project entailed overlaying the existing bitumen on the runway surface and clearing vegetation on the side of the runway.

He also noted that they would also have overlay on the taxi way and repair the front of the airport facility or offices.

Further, he said, the project would include putting road markings on the runway and taxi way among other things. “The project was handed over to us on May 12, this year and it commenced on May 13. NMA Engineering Consultants will be supervising our works,” he said.

In the meantime, the airport runway is 1.7 km with a 30 meter width, and upon completion it will be able to handle small planes and bigger transport airplanes. If things go according to the plan, SPEDU is due to negotiate to have planes enroute from Gaborone to Francistown, Maun or Kasane to land in Selebi Phikwe and vice versa.

The airport when operational will boost the business sector in the mining town and surrounding areas and will also have a positive impact on the tourism sector in the region. Game reserves such as Mashatu and Tuli tourist destination points in the region will have more people coming to visit.

Further, since the dams in the area such as Dikgatlhong and Letsibogo Dams have been earmarked to have some tourism aspects and planned to have lodges in the vicinity of the dams in future, the airport will play a major role in luring people to the area thereby boosting the tourism industry in region.

Source : BOPA

Source : Botswana Daily News

Category: General

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