Copperbelt Minister Bowman Lusambo says he is impressed with the pace at which the construction of the Copperbelt International Airport is progressing.
And Mr Lusambo who is also Kabushi Member of Parliament has implored Avic International, the contractor working on the project to employ more Zambians and offer more sub contracts to Copperbelt based firms.
In June 2017, President Edgar Lungu launched the construction of the US$397 million Copperbelt International Airport in Ndola whose works are expected to take three years.
The airport’s facilities will include three aerodromes, a hotel, cargo terminal and business complex, with a 3500m runway with capacity to handle one million passengers.
Avic International Senior Consultant Lei Yingqi briefed Mr Lusambo that works on the runway will be completed before the start of the rainy season.
Mr Lusambo who toured the construction site in Ndola in the company of officials from Zambia Airports Corporation said the progress recorded so far is impressive.
“The Government of His Excellency Edgar Chagwa Lungu, the Great Leader of this great nation intends to give a good service to the people of Zambia in general and the Copperbelt in particular. The President launched this project two month ago and I am here to see the progress recorded so far and I am happy with what I have seen,” Mr. Lusambo told Reporters.
“The works are going on well and I am confident that we will finish the project within the target period. President Lungu wants to leave a legacy to Zambians politically, economically and socially and this is what we are doing as soldiers of His Excellency President Lungu who are carrying his vision,” he said.
The Copperbelt Minister added, “Seeing what is going on here, I hope and trust that the President will be very happy, just a two days ago, he was very annoyed that the project was not going according to his plans. He has a vision for this country and he has plans for each and every province including the Copperbelt, with this project, the Copperbelt Province will be transformed economically. We want our people to get jobs and this project will come with additional infrastructure.”
Mr Lusambo also emphasised that qualified Zambians should be hired to work on the project and that more local firms should be sub contracted as a way of increasing local benefits.
“The President emphasized on sub contracts and jobs for local people and you must ensure that is adhered to. We want to ensure that we empower the local people within the province, so far, I am happy I have seen some Zambians working here but you have indicated that you are coming up with six camps for Chinese workers to assist in the construction of this airport, I want to sit down with you and see the kind of people coming to work here because we don’t want to get Chinese workers coming here to get jobs that can be done by Zambians,” Mr Lusambo told AVIC officials during the site tour.
And Avic International Senior Consultant Mr Lei Yingqi explained that so far the project has employed 270 Zambians and 70 Chinese workers.
He said his firm will sit down with government to agree on how the recruitment of local and foreign workers on the project will be undertaken.
Mr. Lei also appealed to Government to quickly move the remaining 46 settlers who are occupying the land where the runway will pass saying delays in moving these people might impact other works.
“This project has six sections. What we are calling Avic 1 is for civil and tarmac works and Avic 2 is for concrete work while Avic 3 is for terminal building and other building like offices and fire buildings and Avic 4 will be for installation and equipment for lighting and tower works,” he explained.
“This is a very modern airport and will have an overflight bridge which will be Avic 5 and the airport décor will be in Avic 6. So we will have six branches. Please let the people understand, we promise to hire local people gradually not immediately. Let’s not have the people come here and throw stones and cause violence. Wed need your protection,” Mr Lei pleaded with Mr Lusambo.