President Edgar Lungu has today launched the construction of the US$397 million Copperbelt International Airport in Ndola.
ZANIS reports that the robust construction project will run for a period of three years and will be undertaken by a Chinese contractor AVIC international.
The Head of State says government has prioritized the expansion of transport infrastructure as it is critically essential for sustained growth and socio economic transformation.
A programme to construct and upgrade the transport infrastructure across the country is well in motion to make Zambia a transport hub of the region, he said.
“For us to achieve diversified and resilient economy as espoused in the seventh National Development Plan that was launched on Wednesday, we have to build a well function transport system, the project is a fulfilment of the patriotic front’s commitment to infrastructure development as one of the key priorities and strategy for accelerating our country’s socio economic development, ” he indicated.
President Lungu further mentioned that it was imperative that this project was taking place on the Copperbelt which has always been an economic engine of the country.
He said the relevance of the Copperbelt province to Zambia’ economic growth was in light with the diversification of agriculture and tourism.
President Lungu further directed the ministry on infrastructure development to ensure that sub contracts and supplies to project are undertaken by local contractors.
“In the same vein contractors should employ Copperbelt residents especially youths and further urged contractors to employ Copperbelt based residents especially youths ,“ he said.
And housing and Infrastructure Minister Ronald Chitotela revealed that the construction project will run for a period of three years and will create 3000 jobs during construction and a total of 5000 jobs once completed.
Mr. Chitotela urged contractors to observe and adhere to Zambian labour laws and adhere to quality workmanship.
The Copperbelt International Airport will comprise three aerodromes, a 3.5 Kilometer runway, a hotel, cargo terminal, business complex among other facilities.
Speaking at the same occasion Copperbelt Minister Bowman Lusambo said the construction of the new airport will help in the transformation of the diversification of the province from copper dependence to mining.
And Chinese Ambassador to Zambia Yang Youing said Zambia is poised to become potential Air transport hub in the region once the construction of the airport was completed.
Mr. Youing implored the aviation industry not to be content with the construction of airports but also concentrate on improving the capacity.
He urged the contractor AVIC International to complete the project within the stipulated period and adhere to quality works, and fulfil their social cooperate responsibility.
And AVIC International executive vice president Liu Jun assured the President and Zambians of timely complexion and delivery of Quality works.
The ceremony was attended by cabinet minister including Felix Mutati, the PF secretary general Mumbi Phiri, Copperbelt based Members of parliament, government and party officials.