The Minister of Transport and Communications, Kitso Mokaila has admitted that delivering projects within budget and on time continues to be a challenge for his ministry.
Mokaila made his admission during the official opening of the newly refurbished Kasane International Airport (KIA) held last week.
Despite being completed within budget, the project was finished 12 months behind schedule.
The Minister attributed the delay to problems with the provision of electricity by the Botswana Power Corporation (BPC), delays in obtaining work permits for specialised vocations as well as the sporadic availability of aggregate caused by the environmental and landscape formation of the area.
Attempting to reassure the outgoing President Ian Khama, who officiated the opening of KIA, Mokaila said his ministry intends to employ better project management capability through a dedicated Project Management Office (PMO) in order to rectify the situation.
The new terminal building measures up to 7, 800 square meters – a drastic increase compared to the original one, which was 1, 300 square meters.
It is expected to form a major network of connectivity for tourists to the area and stimulate other tourism activities in the region.
Speaking at the launch, President Khama said the airport provides access to one of the country’s ‘pristine tourism regions’ and continues the government’s drive to deliver improved infrastructure to meet passenger demands into and out of the country.
“We expect the opening of this new international airport to play a positive role in changing the lives of the Kasane community while facilitating all tourists,” Khama said, highlighting that Botswana has liberalised her skies and have performed well in the latest (2015) ICAO Safety Audits.
Khama stressed that these recent developments, as well as KIA’s improvements, Botswana is now in a strong position to attract more airlines to the country.
Botswana is currently rated at 71.32% of effective implementation of the Aviation Safety Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) – an assessment that puts the country way above the African average of 48.24% and even the World average of 63.44%.
Giving his two-cents, Area Member of Parliament, Machana Shamukuni noted that Kasane was not always the tourist destination it has grown to be.
He added that the town’s geographical positioning pits it against the region’s most competitive tourism destinations.
Shamukuni further predicted that the new airport will help increase the number of tourists visiting the country.
The MP also said the refurbishment of the airport translated to employment creation in the area.
The MP concluded by stating Air Botswana, the country’s only air service provider, needs to be funded to get new, comfortable, safe and faster aircrafts if it is to compete for passengers with other airlines.