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The upgrading of Victoria Falls International Airport envisaged to have been completed by end of April next year, has been delayed by three months. The extension has been necessitated by procurement bottlenecks and rains. The delay has seen the contractors adding 103 days after the procurement bottlenecks were cleared, a development that will now see completion of the US$150 million Chinese EximBank- funded project being moved to July 2015.

Engineers told Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Obert Mpofu during a tour of the airport last week that the project was 50 percent complete.

Site Engineer Owen Nyama said rains that fell last season saw the Chinese contractor requesting more time. The project is set to transform the airport to international standards enabling it to handle bigger planes.

Construction work aimed at upgrading the airport was on course with the three-storey international terminal building almost 50 percent complete, while a new 4km runway, which is 60 metres wide, was 70 percent complete. Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe chief executive officer Mr David Chawota said it was envisaged that upon completion, international airlines would fly directly to and from Victoria Falls unlike at present where only national and regional airlines ply the airport. Minister Mpofu said it was time Government ministries and departments stopped paying lip service to Zim- Asset.

“As a ministry, we have agreed that instead of explaining Zim-Asset, we implement it,” he said.

“We have seen some people using elaborate articulation of Zim-Asset, theorising it. We will not do that, but implement Zim-Asset as we have seen here.”

Minister Mpofu expressed satisfaction with the work being carried out by the main contractor, China Jiangsu International.

“This is a clear testimony of our close links with China and confirms capacity of Chinese companies in doing business at that high level,” he said.

Minister Mpofu said more work still needed to be done at Harare International Airport and other tourist destinations like Kariba and Buffalo Range.

He said Government had demonstrated commitment to supporting aviation infrastructure through the introduction of a levy that was being used to fund refurbishment work.

Minister Mpofu also revealed that Government secured a US$750 million loan facility with a South African financial institution to refurbish the National Railways of Zimbabwe railway infrastructure.

Source : The Herald