President Edgar Lungu has yesterday commissioned the 397 million United States dollar Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport in Ndola on the Copperbelt Province.
Speaking during commissioning, President Lungu said the airport has been constructed on a government-to-government loan facilitated by the Exim Bank of China.
Mr Lungu has since thanked the Chinese President, Xi Jinping and the people of China for providing the necessary financing for the infrastructure.
The head of state said the construction of the airport, located 20 kilometers west of Ndola is in line with government’s aspirations of transforming Zambia into an Aviation Hub.
President Lungu said Government is fully committed to driving the country’s development agenda and harnessing the country’s economic potential.
“During the project phase, a total of 3,023 direct and 1,478 indirect jobs were created. I am happy to report that our local contractors benefitted through subcontracting from the main contractor. I am reliably informed that as Zambia Airports Corporation Limited commences operations, there will be opportunities for restaurants, retail outlets and duty-free shops in the terminal, apart from the hotel,” President Lungu said.
“Your Government has again delivered another of its promises that further positions our country for growth. The aviation subsector being what it is, is subject to significant regulatory oversight. The immediate period going forward is the last mile in the journey to getting the airport certified for operations,” He said.
The President added that local contractors benefitted through sub-contracting, from Avic International, who are the main contractors of the project.
Mr. Lungu said the airport will also provide opportunities for other businesses.
“I am reliably informed that as Zambia Airports Corporation Limited commences operations, there will be opportunities for restaurants, retail outlets and duty-free shops in the terminal, apart from the hotel,” he said.
The President also disclosed that plans are underway for realizing Airfreight cargo potential, route development and other business opportunities on the airport’s land.
Mr Lungu said this is in line with Zambia’s Seventh National Development Plan agenda of taking development closer to the people.
He implored various agencies involved in the process to ensure required standards, so that safety and security for passengers are upheld.
Mr Lungu called for speedy operationalization of the new state-of-the-art facility.
“I urge Zambia Airports Corporation and the Civil Aviation Authority to complete the operational certifications so that operations can commence,” Mr. Lungu said.
The New Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport consists of a 3.5 kilometer runway, taxi ways and an apron.
Other features include a 2 million passengers per annum, capacity terminal building, a cargo terminal and an equipped air traffic control tower.
The airport also houses a rescue and fire station, navigational equipment, a commercial complex and a hotel.
Meanwhile, President Lungu said Government will soon embark on the ambitious project to turn the Lusaka – Ndola highway into a dual carriageway.
He said this project is long awaited and it will not only reduce accidents on the highway but it will give business to local contractors who will also employ many of the young people.
“The projects we commenced at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport and here at the new Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe Mwansa International Airport are pivotal in facilitating the country’s tourism and industrialization agenda. This infrastructure is key in elevating our development agenda to another level,” President Lungu said.
“Travellers to Ndola can now experience a world-class look and feel here at the new Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe international airport. It is a launchpad to the rest of the Copperbelt and the northern tourism circuit. This airport, as well, is in close proximity to the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Katanga province thereby improving business between the two countries,” he said.