Government allays UNWTO infrastructure fears

ZIMBABWE is on course to complete ongoing infrastructure projects meant to support smooth hosting of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly ahead of the UNWTO advance team visit on August 13, a top government official has said.

REPORT BY TAURAI MANGUDHLA

In an interview with businessdigest, Transport and Infrastructure secretary Munesu Munodawafa said government had made significant strides towards key infrastructure projects to make the general assembly, to be co-hosted with Zambia between August 24 and 29, flawless.

Munodawafa said construction of the semi-permanent aluminium glass fabrication,which is the venue of the main conference event, should be completed by the time the UNWTO advance team visits.

“A team led by retired Colonel Christian Katsande was there last week and they gave me feedback that we were on course to meet our targets in terms of the conference venue which is being constructed by a South African company in conjunction with local players,” said Munodawafa who chairs the UNWTO general assembly transport and infrastructure subcommittee.

“The UNWTO advance team will help us with the finishing touches for the conference venue because they have their specifications which are world standards for all their conferences and this will include connection of the PA systems and so on.”

The government official said extension works and refurbishment of Victoria Falls terminals is on course and expected to be completed by the end of next week.

“The terminals had to be extended to accommodate more people because they were queuing outside and this should be completed by 5 August,” he said.

National flag carrier Air Zimbabwe has assured government of its ability to adequately fly delegates to the venue of the general assembly after increasing its frequencies for domestic flights and recently adding flights between Victoria Falls and Johannesburg.

Giving an update on the road rehabilitation, Munodawafa said government was 75% through with surfacing and expanding the width of the 21km stretch between the Victoria Falls airport and the town centre from 7m to 10m.

“One of the major issues is the upgrading of the hospital where we have built three new buildings. One of them is a new section for mother and child care while another is an administration block to create more capacity in the hospital itself and this should be completed in the first week of August.”

In terms of connectivity, Munodawafa said, Liquid Telecom has completed laying its fibre optic cable which should be commissioned next week while TelOne’s fibre optic link is also expected to be commissioned later. TelOne has also added a microwave link between Bulawayo and Victoria Falls to augment the fibre network.

Two weeks ago, businessdigest reported the country’s preparations for the UNWTO general assembly were gathering momentum with new confidence after Treasury’s release of part-funding for the critical event.

At the time, the Ministry of Finance had already paid for some key activities and was expected to release up to US$2 million towards the general assembly.

Tourism minister Walter Mzembi said Treasury had disbursed cash towards critical invoices for the event without confirming the amounts.