M1b deal for airport upgrade 

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Lekhetho Ntsukunyane

GOVERNMENT will today ink a deal worth M1 billion to refurbish Moshoeshoe I International Airport, Public Works and Transport Minister Tšoeu Mokeretla has said.

Mr Mokeretla made the announcement yesterday while answering questions in the Senate. The questions, which were posed by Qacha’s Nek Principal Chief, Mojela Makhaola, centred on when the refurbishment would begin, the areas earmarked for renovation and the cost of the upgrade.

In his response, Mr Mokeretla said a delegation of experts from the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, Saudi Fund for Development, Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa and OPEC Fund for International Development, arrived in the country on Sunday to assess the state of the airport.

Mr Mokeretla said the delegation’s visit was at the invitation of the Ministry of Finance following a feasibility study by his ministry.

The refurbishment, the minister said, would cost M1, 073, 300 028, with the exercise expected to commence immediately after the Ministry of Finance has secured the money.

“The Ministry of Finance has been negotiating with the following development partners; Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, Saudi Fund for Development, Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa and OPEC Fund for International Development.

“A delegation from these partners arrived in Lesotho on 15 November 2015 to assess the state of the airport,” he said, adding the team would leave the country on Saturday.

“The delegation will hold a meeting with cabinet tomorrow to sign a partnership agreement for the refurbishment of the airport. I am not in a position to say how much the partners will put on the table, but the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development alone has pledged 85 percent of the total cost of the refurbishment.”

Mr Mokeretla said the areas needing urgent attention included strengthening of the existing runway, extension of the runway and adding new shoulders on both sides of the runway, provision of a new turn-pad at Runway 04, runway markings and signage, airfield ground lighting improvement and perimeter road upgrading.

“The renovations will also include additions and alterations of the terminal and administration buildings, extension and modification of the existing car-park and roads, improvements to mechanical facilities such as conveyor belts, sliding doors, baggage-screeners etc,” he said.

“Added to that, the exercise will also include improving communication and security equipment, rectification of roof leakages at the terminal and fire station, replacement of the rapid intervention vehicle, strengthening and widening of existing taxiways and flexible apron with concrete to accommodate larger aircraft, provide an overhead bridge for passengers embarking and disembarking the aircraft, provide for a separate VIP lounge building away from the existing terminal and a transit lounge at the terminal.”

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