Landing system failures and the recent near-fatal crash caused by a sounder of warthogs at Harare International Airport runway are cases in point. Business reporter Bernard Mpofu makes a follow-up on the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe’s plans to restore malfunctioning systems. He speaks to Caaz General manager David Chawota.
Mpofu: CAAZ this year celebrated 10 years of existence. What have been the authority’s major achievements and failures?
Chawota: The authority’s major achievements include, but are not limited to, the establishment of good corporate governance structures, development of specialised and dedicated staff, which had it not been the case, the authority would not have survived the 2007/8 economic downturn, safe airport and airspace operation, good corporate citizenship as Caaz participated in various social responsibly projects and establishment of an International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) compliant regulatory environment.
Mpofu: Last month, you told this newspaper that Caaz would in a fortnight restore the full functionality of the landing system at Harare International Airport. What progress has been made since then?
Chawota: Correction, it was about the runway lights. The lights have been ordered but there was a delivery delay arising from payment transfer systems which I believe you are conversant with. Delivery is now expected in a week’s time.
Mpofu: We understand a safety audit was carried out at the aviation authority; when is information on that audit going to be made public?
Chawota: The Safety Oversight Audit is due in January 2010 having been postponed from October 2009 and the Security Audit was due in September 2009. Results will be posted on the ICAO website.
Mpofu: What progress has Caaz made in pursuing the open-skies policy? When are we likely to see more airlines coming in?
Chawota: A regional approach of implementing the Yamoussoukro Decision takes care of the airspace liberalisation. Airlines go where there are markets. When Zimbabwe becomes such a market, more airlines will come in.
Mpofu: How secure is the airport given last week’s break-in reports at the duty-free shop at the airport?
Chawota: Experiencing a robbery does not necessarily mean insecurity. Airports are some of the most secure places handling large numbers of complex characters. Banks are robbed. An investigation has been launched to determine whether there was security lapse and if there was, corrective action will be taken.
Mpofu: What measures has the authority taken to ensure that near-fatal accidents such as the recent crash won’t happen again?
Chawota: The authority is taking its safety and security oversight programmes seriously. This is the known measure to minimise and prevent accidents. Divine intervention is the ultimate!