Msunduzi could lose airport funding

2013-02-15 00:00

THE Msunduzi Municipality will lose R16 million in grant funding meant to upgrade Pietermaritzburg (formerly Oribi) Airport if the council does not appoint a service provider before the end of March.

Municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi disclosed this yesterday at a meeting of the executive committee (Exco), when tabling a report on the progress of the airport upgrade.

Nkosi said the provincial Treasury gave the municipality a budget of R40 million for the upgrade. To date, R24 million has been spent on various renovations.

The report states that the balance of R16 million is earmarked for extensions to the terminal building.

Nkosi said extending the terminal would add capacity for passenger arrivals and departures. The next phase would be to build a restaurant.

The money would be divided to allow for two separate contracts, with R9,5 million to extend the terminal, and R6,5 million to extend the apron of the runway.

Nkosi said the upgrades would meet international standards as envisioned in the municipality’s long-term plan in terms of security, fire, customs and landing facilities.

If the airport achieved international status, it could accommodate private charters from Mozambique and Lesotho, and if presidents from either country wanted to meet the KwaZulu-Natal premier, for instance, or an MEC, they would able to land here.

“Having international status would also help in our quest to secure flights to Cape Town and Lanseria,” Nkosi said.

He said the municipality wanted an airport equipped to international standards to cater for the city’s status as the capital of the province.

“The grant funding will be recalled by the KZN Treasury should the municipality not provide evidence that a contractor has been appointed by March 22.”

The report presented to the Exco states that there was a delay finalising the design for the apron, after operators expressed reservations about the plans presented by a team from the Treasury, which monitors the province’s small airports.

This matter was resolved at a subsequent site meeting in January.

Nkosi said the council should note that the airport’s operations would be severely compromised if the improvements to the terminal and apron were not completed. He therefore wanted the council to expedite the process of appointing a service provider.

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