The expansion and upgrade works of Robert Mugabe International Airport in Zimbabwe are at an advanced stage.
Reportedly the construction of the main terminal is almost complete. Only a few final touches are being made. The state-of-the-art VVIP pavilion on the other hand is also almost done while the new rivals and departure sections are done.
According to China Jiangsu International pump station, and chilled water pipe has been installed. The company also revealed that the number three boarding bridge has been hoisted and connected successfully.
At this pace, the Robert Mugabe International Airport could be opened for services by June 2023. Meanwhile, the rehabilitation of the existing international and domestic terminal buildings will begin and be completed in Dec 2023.
Overview of the Robert Mugabe International Airport Upgrade Project
The RGM International Airport expansion works entail expanding the international terminal building and aprons and the installation of four new air bridges. A VVIP pavilion will also be constructed.
The project will also include the upgrade of the ground lighting system and communication systems and along with this will be service equipment such as ambulances, universal towing vehicles, airside buses, and fire-fighting vehicles.
The works are being undertaken by the Chinese construction company China Jiangsu International. Funding for the RGM International Airport expansion works has been through a concessionary loan from the China Exim Bank that was availed after a state visit to Beijing by President Mnangagwa in 2018.
Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport to undergo rehabilitation
The Harare International Airport now renamed Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport (RGMIA) is expected to undergo massive rehabilitation to match the stature of President Mugabe, a global icon. This is according to Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joram Gumbo.
“I am pleased to inform you, Your Excellency, that in order to match your stature, the airport will soon undergo a massive rehabilitation and development program. Negotiations for the financing of the project are progressing well and nearing completion and we expect the work to commence before the end of the year,” he added.
Airports Development Master Plan
Besides, the Transport and Infrastructural Development Ministry is now working on an Airports Development Master Plan to be shared with the rest of the Government.
“The plan will guide aviation development in the country, in pursuit of our goal of creating a hub of aviation services in the country. My ministry is pursuing alternative and innovative funding modalities to ensure that the plan comes to fruition,” said Minister Joram Gumbo.
In renaming the airport Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, Minister Gumbo said, the ministry is implementing a decision of the Zanu-PF conference to name the country’s biggest and busiest airport in honor of the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.
“As this airport is set for further expansion, we will continue to work with the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development to ensure that the land required for future expansion is made available,” said Minister Kasukuwere.
“This airport is part of your legacy, wise leadership and you have given priority to infrastructure and utility development in the country for the entirety of the people of Zimbabwe.” Minister Kasukuwere said the airport was renowned for its distinctive conical tower which he described as a landmark.
“For visitors, it is their first glimpse of Zimbabwe. For those returning from their trips, it is a welcome first sight of home. As you are the face of Zimbabwe, it is only befitting that this airport is named after you, we want to express our gratitude to you for accepting this honor bestowed on you by your grateful nation. It is therefore appropriate that the airport be named after an illustrious son of Zimbabwe,” Minister Kasukuwere said.
Minister of State for Harare Provincial Affairs Mirriam Chikukwa said the renaming of the airport demonstrated the pride of Zimbabweans in President Mugabe. She said Harare is honored to host the airport.
“I am, therefore, delighted that with this renaming, the airport will soon undergo a development program, which will make an immense contribution to the achievement of the goals and objectives of the country’s economic blueprint, Zim-Asset within the infrastructure and utility cluster,” said Chikukwa.
Zimbabwe signs a loan agreement for the expansion of the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport
The government of Zimbabwe has signed a loan agreement with China Eximbank for the expansion project of the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport. The US $153m expansion project has been ratified by the National Assembly and work is expected to commence soon.
According to Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa, upgrading and expansion of the airport will restore Zimbabwe and Harare’s position as an international and regional hub.
Patrick Chinamasa added that they expect increased passenger and aircraft processing areas through the expansion of the international terminal building.
According to Chinamasa Passenger processing should be improved through the introduction of state-of-the-art passenger processing and facilitation equipment and systems, and runway safety assurance through the completion of the runway rehabilitation and airfield lighting project.
“We expect increased traffic at the airport as has been evidenced by traffic growth at the Victoria Falls International Airport after completion of that development project,” he added.
Apart from restoring the country into an international and regional hub, the airport expansion project will also boost tourist visits to the country as well as create employment.
Moreover, the concessional loan agreement has a 7-year grace period, with 0.25% commission fees, a 2% annual interest rate, and a management fee pegged at the same rate which will have a tenure of 20 years inclusive of the seven-year grace period.
Additionally, Minister Chinamasa confirmed that an on-lending agreement between the Government and the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe is expected to be signed soon under the same terms.
Nonetheless, China Eximbank has also provided US $150m for the expansion of the Victoria Falls International Airport. The airport has seen an increasing number of tourist arrivals in the resort town since its completion.
Zimbabwe commissions rehabilitation of Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport
Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa has commissioned the US $153m Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport upgrading and rehabilitation project, as his government aims to modernize the country’s infrastructure to meet world standards.
According to President Emmerson, the project is anticipated to take three years to complete and brings with it employment opportunities for citizens. The President added that the upgrading and rehabilitation of the airport was a catalyst for economic development.
“It supports the broader national aspirations towards transport and infrastructure network in the country, as we endeavor to provide enablers to fully industrialize and modernize the economy,” he said.
“The ongoing refurbishment and retooling of the railway sector by the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) will complement the upgrading of airports and road constructions, as well as convergence with the modernization of our border posts for the overall benefit of trade, industry, business and travelers alike,” he added.
Modern infrastructure, President Mnangagwa said, was a key enabler for industrialization, human development, and economic growth.
“To this end, airports are the basic physical structure needed for any modern society, enterprise, or economy to function efficiently. It facilitates movement of goods and natural persons, tourists, and investors, among others,” he said
“It is most pleasing that this project will create employment opportunities for women and youths, among others, during its implementation, as well as trigger demand for various raw materials, thereby improving capacity utilization in our local industry,” said the president.
“Upon completion, this project is expected to boost the current positive growth and transformation trends in trade and tourism. Further, it will facilitate trade in agricultural produce, minerals, and other products with China, the Far East, and Europe through enhanced air connectivity in line with existing air service agreements and the envisaged growth of every sector of our economy,” he added.
RGM International Airport has an annual combined passenger handling capacity of 2.5 million people and the upgrade is expected to shoot to six million.
The number of airlines visiting Zimbabwe is also expected to increase. President Mnangagwa said implementation of the project should be accompanied by complementing developments in the entire aviation sector.
RGM International Airport expansion works are underway in Zimbabwe
The US$153 million Robert Gabriel Mugabe RGM International Airport expansion works is well underway with 22 percent of the works already done with a scheduled completion date of the end of 2021.
Joel Biggie Matiza, Transport, and Infrastructural Development Minister said recently that Government was impressed with the progress of work so far. The 36-month project happens to be one of the vital infrastructure development ventures undertaken by the Second Republic in 2019. It is expected that once complete the airport will be able to handle 6 million passengers annually.
The Robert Gabriel Mugabe (RGM) International Airport is one of the projects that was recently in the spotlight when the Chinese financial institutions suspended financing because the Zimbabwe government raided an escrow account at The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and withdrew US$10m and converted it to local currency.
The other affected projects were the Hwangwe Coal Fired Power Station and the NetOne telecoms expansion project. The Zimbabwe government’s action effectively put US$ 1.3 billion on the line.
2 Air-Side Shuttle Buses Put into Operation at Robert Mugabe International Airport
As part of the ongoing renovation and upgrade of Robert Mugabe International Airport in Zimbabwe, two new air-side shuttle buses have been put into operation. This took place at a ceremony led by Felix Mhona, the minister of transportation and infrastructure development.
The minister said that using the airport shuttle buses which were acquired by Airports Company of Zimbabwe (Private) Limited (ACZ) would be convenient for passengers. In addition, Mhona said that they would ensure seamless turnarounds by processing arrivals quickly and departing on schedule. This he explained would consequently clear up space, avoid delays, and save money.
Construction of the airport VVIP pavilion and arrivals and departure areas are well underway
On the sidelines, it came to light that works on the cutting-edge VVIP Pavilion are well underway. The minister revealed that representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade were working together to ensure that it met all the necessary requirements. Reportedly by the year’s end, the public will be able to use the newly upgraded Robert Mugabe International Airport arrivals and departure areas.
Minister Mhona asked the ACZ and stakeholders to keep up the momentum and ensure that as the airport expands, so does the fleet of shuttle buses. This is in a bid to capitalize on the government’s policy push toward intelligent, carbon-emission-free, electric vehicles.