GOVERNMENT is yet to identify a contractor for the new Mzuzu International Airport which is expected to cost about K14.6 billion.
This has raised fears that the project might delay further, considering that government has also not yet finalized talks with Chinese financiers for a concession loan on the project, scheduled to commence in November this year.
Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Public Works, Francis Chinsinga disclosed in an interview on Tuesday that although government has settled for Lusangazi in Mzuzu among the three places that were identified as possible sites for the project, discussions regarding the financier and the contractor are still ongoing and might take up to October this year.
“It has not been decided yet. Perhaps we should be able to know [who is the contractor] around October. We are looking at a low interest concession loan from China but we are not completely done with the discussions. What remains are final touches,” Chinsinga said.
The new airport site is 11 kilometres from Mzuzu Central Business District (CBD) and about three kilometers from Lusangazi Roadblock. President Peter Mutharika during his one-week stay in the Northern Region early August visited the site.
Briefing Mutharika at the time, Chinsinga said although the land identified is about 230 hectares, the new airport will occupy about 90 hectares as it will only accommodate lighter aircrafts of about 70 passengers.
The land set aside for the airport, according to Chinsinga, is enough to cater for two air craft runways of about two kilometres long.
“Since the land here is not as hilly, expansion is possible. Among other structures, the airport will have terminals comprising the Very Important Persons (VIP) section. In future, we can expand the runway to accommodate bigger aircrafts,” Chinsinga said.
He said the fog that is associated with the area will be countered by modern landing instruments that will guide pilots when landing or taking off. He said the airport construction is expected to last 18 months.
Minister of Transport and Public Works, Jappie Mhango, said ministry officials will soon be deployed to assess the new airport site particularly the number of people that will be affected that might need compensation as it will be constructed on a public land