The Minister of Transport and Communication(MTC) Kitso Mokaila last week said the Hukuntsi Airport relocation project is stalling due to shortage or lack of funds and it looks like it will remain in the pipeline dream of government for years having missed many deadlines since its inception in 2011.
The existing Hukuntsi Airstrip was to be relocated due to its proximity to Hukuntsi village according to the Minister of Transport and Communications. The ministry is currently working on the project which was discontinued due to the economic meltdown which persisted through and beyond 2010. “The Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana(CAAB) submitted proposals for funding during NDP11, one of them being the relocation of Hukuntsi Airfield for inclusion. Nonetheless, due to competing needs, the project has also not been funded under NDP 11,” Mokaila said.
He said the design for the new airfield was done and completed in 2011 but the project stalled until this year. Takatokwane MP Ngaka Ngaka who wanted to know the progress of the airfield also wanted to know the risk that comes with the airport located in the middle of the village. Mokaila said while it can be risky to have an airfield in a built-up area, the Hukuntsi airspace still meets the standards set by International Civil Aviation Organization(ICAO). He said any associated risks are being routinely managed.
Another negative factor about the airfield is that it does not have lighting and that does not benefit the Hukuntsi community. “Currently there are about eighteen airfields that are of the same standard as Hukuntsi. All these airfields have no Airfield Ground Lighting System(AGLS). This is due to the costs associated with providing the system. We therefore encourage local authorities to assist where possible,” said Mokaila.