Government has awarded a K144m contract to a Chinese company for the construction of a new runway at Kasama Airport in Northern Province.
This came to light today, when Parliamentarians under the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) visited the airstrip.
The four man committee led by Chairperson Vincent Mwale was in Kasama to establish why works at the airport were not undertaken despite government releasing K5.6m in 2013.
Mr Mwale was concerned that auditors had raised queries that even though funds were released to rehabilitate the runway, works had not commenced at the airstrip.
But clarifying the matter to the parliamentarians, Deputy Director for Civil Aviation Adams Daka said the K5.6m was meant for the rehabilitation of the old 1.7 kilometre runway.
‘’However, government thought is wise to have a completely new runway at Kasama hence this new contract,’’ he said.
Mr Daka said a new 3 km runway to run parallel to the old one will now be constructed to full bituminous standards at a cost of K144m.
He added that once completed, the runway will accommodate big planes and will be a strategic stopover because air traffic passing through Southern to East Africa will be able to refuel and check for technical faults at Kasama.
‘’This contract was signed last week and the Chinese contractor will move on site soon,’’ he said.
He added that the move will boost the tourism potential of the Northern Circuit.
And PAC members appealed to supervisors and technocrats involved in the construction of the runway to ensure that the project does not suffer unnecessary delays in order for people to realize the benefits of their investment.
Mwale said the PAC was concerned that huge sums of tax payers’ money is being spent on government projects whose completion is being unnecessarily delayed by unpatriotic civil servants and contractors.
And on the issue of Kasaba Bay, Mr Daka said a technical report indicated that almost 70 percent of the total works have already been completed.