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Zimbabwe commissions Chinese built airport

By Lovemore Chikova (People's Daily Online)    09:51, November 21, 2016

Zimbabwe commissioned on Friday (yesterday) the state-of-the-art Victoria Falls International Airport after new constructions and refurbishments done by China Jiangsu International Economic and Technical Cooperation Group.

Speakers at the function highly commended China Jiangsu International “for constructing this elegant and imposing structure that meets international standards”.

The construction and refurbishment was made possible by a $150 million concessional loan facility provided to Zimbabwe by the China Export and Import Bank in 2012.

The civil engineering works began in 2013, resulting in the construction of a new four-kilometre long and 60 metres wide runway, an international terminal building, a fire station, control tower and installing of state-of-the-art specialist aviation equipment.

The old airport was also renovated and will now serve as the domestic terminal building.

While commissioning the upgraded airport, President Robert Mugabe praised China Jiangsu International for enhancing cooperation between his country and China.

“Whenever we undertake projects, we should insist that they be of high quality and that they get completed within the specified timeframe,” he said.

"China Jiangsu International, the Chinese contractor engaged on this project, met our requirements."

“We commend them for the professional and efficient way they worked on this project and we will not hesitate to engage them again, should other projects arise.”

President Mugabe said the upgrading of the airport was a “milestone achievement, as Zimbabwe forges ahead with the transformation of its transport, itself a key enabler for economic growth and development”.

He urged his government officials to ensure that the work done on the airport by China Jiangsu International was not in vein through marketing it to the world to ensure more tourists were attracted.

“It goes without saying that one of the immediate and key beneficiaries of the upgraded Victoria Falls International Airport is tourism,” said President Mugabe.

“Air transport, in as much as it facilitates trade and tourism, also fosters regional integration. Now that Victoria Falls International Airport is complete, I urge you to move to achieving our aim of making Zimbabwe a regional hub in Southern Africa.”

The successful completion of the upgrading means that visitors and tourists from all the world can now fly directly to Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

The Victoria Falls has managed to hold its own as one of the premier tourist destination in Africa for many years.

Speaking at the same occasion Chinese Embassy Charge de Affairs Cui Chun said the project represented the growth of bilateral relations between China and Zimbabwe.

“I’m grateful to attend this completion ceremony, a milestone in our bilateral relations and honoured by your presence here today Your Excellency,” he said.

“It shows the enduring friendship between China and Zimbabwe. This landmark project means a lot for both our countries, and has potential to become a regional hub that will stimulate economic growth.”

The expansion of Victoria Falls International Airport is expected to greatly improve the equipment and facilities, as well as the capability of safeguarding civil aviation security.

It also means that more international routes will be opened to make easy access to the worldly renowned Victoria Falls, the second largest water fall in the world, from major cities around the globe.

Reception of international tourists will be increased from 500 000 people per year to nearly two million people year following the new construction and renovation.

Wide body airplanes such as Boeing 747 and 767 and Airbus 340 and 380 will be able to take off or land on the newly-built airfield runway.

The expected sharp increment in international tourists and foreign currency earnings will boost tourism and the matching service industry in Victoria Falls.

Tourism is one of the top foreign currency earners in Zimbabwe and the envisaged increase in tourist arrivals following the expansion of the airport will boost the country’s reserves.

It is also expected that the rapid development of tourism in Victoria Falls will drive up the tertiary industry, including transportation, post and telecommunications, real estate, business, insurance, culture and entertainment.

Apart from that, the expansion of the airport also brings jobs to local people, horns the skills of Zimbabwean technicians, teaches Chinese big time construction technique and management and helps promote the construction industry in the country.

Lovemore Chikova is the News Editor of The Herald newspaper in Zimbabwe and a fellow at the China Africa Press Centre. He can be contacted on [email protected]

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(Web editor: Wu Chengliang, Bianji)

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