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Compensation stalls airports’ renovation

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Government has not yet started accessing the $20 million (approximately K14 billion) from the European Investment Bank (EIB) for the upgrading of airports as compensation processes for encroachers have not yet been concluded.

The loan—which was approved by the last sitting of Parliament after it had been initially shot down—is meant to finance the upgrading of essential aviation safety and security equipment at Kamuzu and Chileka international airports.

When tabling the bill, Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe said the money was for the installation of surveillance equipment, navigation equipment comprising Very High Frequency (VHF) and Direction Finder (VDF), meteorological equipment and runway visual range.

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The money is also set for the installation of a Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) link to the tower and upper station link, completion of the taxiway, and the purchase of rescue fire-fighting services and X-ray machines, among others.

In an interview Monday, spokesperson for the Ministry of Finance, Nations Msowoya, said while government has started accessing some of the loans which Parliament approved, the airports credit remains untapped.

He said the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development is looking into the issue of compensations to determine whether the encroachers are legally entitled to them.

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“There were other loans which Parliament approved which we have started accessing because all the conditions have been fulfilled. They include the [$40 million (about K28 billion)] from the International Development Association to rehabilitate the North-South Corridor.

“But the loan for the airports’ upgrading is not being accessed because there are compensation processes that have to be completed first. When we were applying for the loan, we did not foresee that so we did not include it in the loan,” said Msowoya.

Msowoya said government already signed for the loan with the International Development Association. It will start accessing it the moment compensation procedures have been concluded.

Minister of Transport and Public Works, Malison Ndau, said in an interview yesterday that he was aware that the financiers of the project require that all bottlenecks on the two airports should be cleared before they can release the funds.

“Yes, it is true that currently, we are looking into compensation matters and Treasury is working on that,” said Ndau, saying he will have more details the moment he peruses through some documents.

Mid last year, t h e Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) warned that failure to quickly address aviation safety issues could put the country’s airports at risk of being blacklisted by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

DCA Director Alfred Mtilatila was then quoted as saying the delays are contrary to the Chicago Convention, an international civil aviation convention, which came into effect on 4 April, 1944 and was ratified by 191 countries worldwide, including Malawi.

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