Siavonga airstrip now a white elephant


Siavonga airstrip resembles bush. Photo by CAJ News Africa

from SNIKE MZULAH in Siavonga, Zambia
Zambia Bureau
SIAVONGA, (CAJ News) – A FORMER councilor has decried the absence of a domestic airline service to Siavonga as frustrating the growth of tourism in the destination.

Smart Gwanda, the ex-councilor, noted that access to the district was presently by road only.

He said an airline service was needed in order to attract local and foreign tourists.

“Air connectivity is cardinal for Siavonga because of the district being a tourist destination,” Gwanda said.

“I feel an airline service is needed just like it is in Livingstone. This will attract tourists, especially foreign tourists to visit Siavonga and also boost tourism business in the area.”

The airstrip in Siavonga has deteriorated into a white elephant.

Parts of it have been vandalised.

“It has become a grazing ground for livestock, which is very unfortunate for a good place like Siavonga. We want the government to rehabilitate the airstrip and upgrade it into a mini airport,” Gwanda said.

The former civil leader also called on the council to devise events that can help to sell Siavonga’s tourism.

Local headman, Frackson Siamenda, said the airstrip was constructed in 2009 but the official handover failed because of alleged poor workmanship.

“Officials from the civil aviation department refused to take over the airstrip and described the works done on it as sub-standard,” Siamenda said.

Siamende added that lack of markings, signages and chopping off more than 200 metres of the runway were some of the reasons that could not permit the airstrip to resume operations.

“Since 2009, the airstrip has been abandoned. No one seems to care about it. It’s sad that the airstrip has now become a grazing ground for domestic animals,” he lamented.

Given Kwapu, the Siavonga Town Council chairperson, said the local authority has budgeted over K100 000 (US$5 500) towards the rehabilitation of the airstrip in the tourist town.

Rehabilitation works will include markings, signages and fencing around the airstrip to prevent livestock and other wildlife animals from crossing the runway.

“One of the issues affecting tourism in Siavonga has been the dilapidated airstrip, that’s why we need to work on it to boost tourism,” Kwapu said.

“For now we just want to rehabilitate it, then in future, we will consider upgrading it into a mini airport. We want to rehabilitate the airstrip at least up to international standard so that people can land in numbers to enjoy the serenity and the beauty of Siavonga,” he added.

Siavonga is Zambia’s principal tourism centre for Lake Kariba.

– CAJ News








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