Rehabilitation works on the Chileka International Airport runway are expected to be completed by November 30 this year after missing two deadlines.
I n a t e l e p h o n e inter view yesterday, Chileka International Airport commandant Dixie Kwatani expressed optimism that they will meet the November 30 deadline, saying everything is progressing according to plan.
Initially, the rehabilitation works, which started on April 24 this year, were expected to be completed by July 24 but the deadline was later shifted to August end.
But Kwatani yesterday attributed the situation to delays in getting adequate materials.
H e s a i d : “ T h e rehabil itation of the runway will be completed by 30 November and we will indeed meet the deadline. The delays have mostly been caused by not getting adequate materials and resources.”
When contacted, Ministry of Transport and Public Works spokesperson James Chakwera said he needed to get more information as he was out of office.
Following the closure of the main runway, big aircrafts have not been landing at the airport, with only small and lighter
b e twe e n K amu z u International Airport (KIA) in Lilongwe and Chileka International Airport. planes ferrying passengers
In January this year, government said it would spend over K4 billion to rehabilitate the airport’s runway.
The rehabilitation is being done while a full refurbishment awaits funding from loan facilities government obtained in recent years through Parliament.
Ministry of Transport and Public Works Principal Secretary Francis Chinsinga is on record as having told the Budget and Finance Committee of Parliament in January this year that the airport’s runway developed cracks which was a challenge for landing aircrafts.
He also said t h e airport lacks fire-fighting equipment and a fully-fledged clinic with an ambulance, among other essentials.
The rehabilitation of the runway forced some airlines such as the South African Airways (SAA) to halt operations due to safety and security concerns.
In 2015, government obtained a 21 million euros (about K17 billion) loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and in 2018, Parliament authorised the borrowing of $168 million (about K122 billion) from Export and Import (Exim) Bank of China for the rehabilitation of KIA and Chileka International Airport.
Then Budget and Finance Committee of Parliament chairperson Rhino Chiphiko questioned why the EIB loan was not utilised since 2015