Felex Share in Harare and Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls
A NINE-member Chinese delegation arrived in the country yesterday for site visits and meetings with senior government officials as the implementation of the mega deals sealed last year intensifies.
The delegation is led by the China International Trade representative Zhang Xiangchen and includes director generals and deputy directors of various Chinese government arms.
The Asian country has agreed to immediately bankroll a number of selected infrastructure projects sealed during President Robert Mugabe’s State visit to China last year, with experts from the National Development and Reform Commission — the economic planning body of China — visiting the country recently to verify the bankability of the projects before financing them.
The financial support to the much-needed key economic enablers is expected to create thousands of jobs and spur economic growth in line with Zim-Asset.
The delegation’s areas of focus include discussions on the expansion of Hwange 7 and 8 Thermal Power Station, special economic zones, construction of the national pharmaceuticals warehouse in Harare and construction of the new Parliament building in Mt Hampden.
Meetings will also be held on the construction and rehabilitation of road and rail networks, allocation of funds provided by the Chinese government and consultations on the upcoming Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit in December.
The delegation is expected to visit some of the sites where the projects are either being carried out or expected to take off.
Yesterday, the delegation immediately got down to busines and toured the Victoria Falls International Airport which is being expanded at a cost of $150 million with the support of the China Exim Bank .
The Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Cde Joram Gumbo, took visiting Chinese Deputy Minister of Commerce Zhang Xiangchen on a tour of the facility and declared the airport 90 percent complete.
The new look airport will start operating on November 23.
“The structure is roughly above 90 percent complete and its operationalisation will be at the end of November. The purpose of the visit is to inspect the project and other projects to ensure they’re within the set timeframes,” Cde Gumbo told The Chronicle.
The Minister welcomed Xiangchen at the airport before embarking on a tour of the facility where the delegation was briefed on the progress by Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe chief executive officer David Chaota.
Chaota said overall progress on the landside is at 75 percent while on the airside it is at 89 percent complete.
Construction work will be completed in May next year.
“The majority of work has been done and as you can see escalators are being worked on in the new terminal,” Chaota said as he briefed the two ministers.
The new terminal building, he said, is now 90 percent complete and workmen are busy doing final touches on the escalators.
Chaota showed the two ministers glass walls that have been erected with electricity tubing having been completed and workmen fitting air conditioning.
He said the three departure lounges were almost complete as workmen were putting final touches.
According to CAAZ, the sewer system is 86 percent complete, sewer ponds 75 percent, the new water tank 100 percent and the water tower 70 percent complete, giving an overall 75 percent progress rate on the landside.
Chaota said: “On the airside, the new 4km runway with associated taxiways, aprons and air navigational aids systems is 99 percent complete and workmen are doing markings while installation of lights is at 98 percent.”
He said the taxiways and aprons are at 85 percent and 92 percent completion.
“The new control tower and ATC building are at 92 percent while the fire station sits at 45 percent to give an overall 89 percent on the airside,” said the CAAZ boss.
CAAZ has said the airport will be a regional hub of world class aviation services by the year 2020.
The domestic terminal will also be upgraded while the car park extension is also almost complete.
Once completed, the new look airport will treble passenger handling from 500,000 per annum to 1,5 million. It will also accommodate wide bodied aircraft such as B747, B777 and A380.
“The facility will offer services which include expanded secure air parking facilities, standard and exclusive food and beverages facilities, lounges, shops and offices for lease,” said the CAAZ in a statement.
Today, Xiangchen will hold a meeting to discuss infrastructural projects with Cde Gumbo.
He will, however, begin with another meeting with Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Minister Supa Mandiwanzira.
The meetings will tackle ‘‘three networks and industrialisation and China-Africa Regional Aviation Cooperation Plan”, according to a programme availed by CAAZ.
Xiangchen will meet Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa and other government ministers led by Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi in Harare tomorrow.