Government committed to improve national transport
Livingstone, February 19, ZANIS ——Government says it is committed to improve all forms of transport system in a bid to boost tourism in the country.
And two airlines have expressed interest to conduct direct flights into Livingstone during the United Nations World Tourism General Assembly (UNWTO) to facilitate travel of thousands of delegates
expected at the prestigious event to be co-hosted between Zambia and Zimbabwe this year.
During a consultative meeting with representatives from different airlines at Royal Livingstone Hotel Yesterday, Transport, Works and Communication Minister, Christopher Yaluma said government wants to fully focus on tourism development adding that the improvement of water, air and rail transport systems are some of the priorities of the government.
Mr Yaluma explained that for the rail line, government had already injected KR640 million (K640 billion) towards the resuscitation of the ailing railway system from the Copper belt to Livingstone to provide not only cheaper transport for the Zambians but also promote both local and international tourism.
He also said government has serious plans to construct a rail line from Livingstone to Kazungula and Mulobezi to Namibia and Livingstone to Shangombo.
“As government we have serious plans to extend the railway line from Livingstone to Kazungula, and Livingstone to Shangombo as well as Mulobezi to Namibia,” said Mr Yaluma.
“And government is committed to source for funding so that all these projects can be completed in the next few years,” said Mr Yaluma.
For water transport, Mr Yaluma said government will this year purchase six dredgers to work on the canals in Western Province to link the country to Angola and promote trade between the two
The Minister said money has been put aside for the drenching of canals in the province to facilitate trade and improve water transport for the people of the province.
Mr Yaluma also said plans for the establishment of a national airline has reached advanced stages and appealed to stakeholders to partner with the government to achieve these plans.
“Plans for establishment of a national airline have reached advanced stages and I wish to appeal to the business community to partner with us in realizing these plans,” said Mr Yaluma.
He noted that the establishment of a national airline was one of the projects that government was seriously looking at in order to promote tourism in the country.
The Minister also said government stands ready to work closely with airlines operating in the country to provide first class travel for UNWTO delegates adding that the rehabilitation of major airports in the country will also enhance the handling of more air traffic.
Mr Yaluma further said the ban imposed on the country by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in 2009 for contravening the regulations on issuing license for airline operators
has been lifted.
In 2009, the country was banned for alleged flouting regulations on the issuance of license for domestic airline operators and subsequently the European Union (EU) banned planes from Zambia flying into Europe.
And the Kenya Airways and Emirates Airways have expressed interest to fly direct flights into Zambia during the UNWTO at special rate for delegates.
Kenya Airways Manager for Zambia, and Malawi Stephen Ngamua said the airline has since written to the Ministry of Transport and Communication over its intention to have direct flights from Nairobi via Mombasa in Tanzania into Livingstone.
Mr Ngamua said the airline already had plans to fly direct into Livingstone not only for the UNWTO but even after the event.
Meanwhile, Tourism and Arts Minister Sylvia Masebo thanked the two airlines for expressing interest to fly direct into Livingstone during the event but challenged the airlines to ensure that they concretise their plans and implement them.
Ms Masebo said government attaches great importance to the successful hosting of the event and appreciates all efforts by various stakeholders to make the event a success.
“Whether your plans are to fly direct into Livingstone or Lusaka it is still good for us as government but I just want to challenge you to concretize your plans and implement them so that we can facilitate easy travel of delegates,” Ms Masebo said.
She also appealed to various airlines in the world to consider extending their services into the country’s various tourist destinations even after the event.
Ms Masebo also challenged the airlines that will be operating into the country during the UNWTO to offer first class services to the delegates.
And Chamber of Commerce Representative, Mr Miles Daka implored the airlines to start test flights into Livingstone now for them to know what type of planes the airport can handle and avoid panicking during the event.
The Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International Airport in Livingstone at its present state has 3 Kilometers of runway and can handle planes like the Boeing 767 and other airbuses but not the Boeing 777.