FREEMAN MAKOPA AIRPORTS Company of Zimbabwe (ACZ) has put in place plans to revive council aerodromes across the country as they remain structures of strategic importance.
ACZ was created this year after the unbundling of the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (Caaz) into an airport company and an authority.
Under the previous structure, Caaz was both the player and the referee as it had regulatory oversight, but also operated airports. Now it will regulate the operations of the aviation industry, including those of the newly-established ACZ.
ACZ chief executive Tawanda Gusha said the company will deploy full-time personnel to aerodromes on demand.
“We are also going to look at Binga airport in the not too distant future. Beitbridge aerodrome is currently operational and there is an arrangement between all the stakeholders from security agents, immigration, Zimra, and Caaz,” Gusha said. “So there is activity going on. Beitbridge Council is active in that regard and we hope to work with all the other councils to revive council aerodromes that are of strategic importance.”
He added that targeted aerodromes will be developed through public-private partnerships, adding that the company is still facing transitional issues.
ACZ is currently engaging potential partners to work with to do the signage around the airports to rebrand them. The current efforts by ACZ come at a time when the government is in a fix over the state of its airspace following revelations that pilots have raised alarm over the sustainability and safety of the country’s Air Traffic Control System.
Zimbabwe is seen as lagging behind in adopting modern air traffic control and experts say the rehabilitation of the system, which will require millions of US dollars, is expected to improve aviation safety and security in the country.
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The Zimbabwe Independent is informed that pilots have raised repeated concerns and in some instances have made some air safety reports with regards to the safety of the country’s Air Traffic Control System which they believe if left unattended might culminate in an airspace disaster.
Previous efforts to implement the critical project have failed with the last two tender awards to AME of South Africa and Indra Sistemas of Spain being summarily cancelled.
FBC Securities estimated the contraband at about US$350 000.
Gusha acknowledged that while the system might be watertight, bad apples within the airport security system had created opportunities to beat their own systems for personal gain.
He said ACZ was working to change cultures and build a secure, incorruptible machine that was ready to deliver.
“One thing that we need to state clearly is that wherever there is the human element, things are bound to happen,” Gusha said.
“People connive and work together to beat the system. It doesn’t mean that the system will not be working. The system itself will be working because when it comes to our security measures only in 2019 we were audited and as a state we scored very high. Our systems are solid. Training of our personnel is also up to standard. But of course where the human element can connive, we then have these things happening.
But in some of the cases, you will find that it was our own systems which detected them. When gold was discovered in South Africa, we were able to do our video playbacks and found out who the culprits were,” he added.
Gusha said: “What has also been a problem is that the general public or the traveling public are the ones who entice our people with all sorts of things, with bribes, with cash offerings so that they can allow them to do their illicit activities.”
He said the ACZ had covered significant ground in reviving several idle aerodromes.
ACZ is currently managing eight airports.
Of these, he said RGM, Joshua Nkomo International Airport in Bulawayo, Victoria Falls International Airport and Hwange Airport were operational.
Gusha said Kariba Airport was also operational, together with Charles Prince Airport, Masvingo Airport and Buffalo Range Airport in Chiredzi.
But work was underway to reopen aerodromes in Mutare and Binga.