Is the capital’s airport unsafe?

2012-12-10 00:00

MSUNDUZI Municipality may “forfeit” its license to operate the Pietermaritzburg (Oribi) Airport, if it fails urgently to address issues of non-compliance, particularly fixing the damaged runway.

A report tabled at the Executive Committee (Exco) meeting last week cautioned that the runway, which was damaged by a plane that landed on its nose, may lead to accidents during departures and landings.

The report also stated that the shoulders of the runway were not levelled.

Other issues of non-compliance were that the airport security was manned by unqualified personnel. Two security officers had not completed their matric, while two other new recruits were employed without obtaining their aviation training certificate.

The report suggested that new recruits should no longer be posted at the airport until they were qualified.

However, municipal spokesperson Brian Zuma said: “It will be an unfortunate situation if a storm is created in a teacup here.”

He said the damage to the runway referred to in the report was very minimal and posed no danger to aircraft.

“I have confirmed this with our engineer, who is the project champion for the municipality in terms of the airport upgrade. The surface will, however, be repaired through an insurance claim between December 2012 and January 2013,” Zuma said.

He said the impression given by the report was exaggerated.

South African Airlink spokesperson Karin Murray said they were aware of the minor damage near the threshold of runway 16, but said this posed no threat to the safe operation of Airlink flights.

DA caucus leader Bill Lambert said this was not a major issue.

NFP caucus leader Ntokozo Bhengu said: “All that is important to us is the safety of the public and for airport management to ensure that they comply with the safety measures.”

The Msunduzi Municipality has notified the high court that it will be appealing the judgment that found it had mishandled the awarding of a tender to manage Pietermaritzburg Airport.

Indiza, which lost the bid, took the matter to court. Judge Rishi Seegobin ordered the municipality to award the tender to the company within a month and to pay all the legal costs.

Indiza, which manages the Richards Bay and Virginia Airports, was one of six bidders. When it lost the bid, it lodged an objection on the basis that the winning bidder had been incorrectly scored.

Company director Enver Asmal confirmed on Friday that he had received the notice of intent to appeal. He said the matter was with his lawyers.

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