THE prevailing chaotic situation at the Hosea Kutako International Airport (HKIA), our biggest airport and the premier port of entry and departure for visitors to Namibia, cannot be allowed to continue.
HKIA is an embarrassment to Namibia, to say the least. The congested airport is in the first place not fit to be classified as an international airport. It lacks adequate basic facilities, such as toilets, proper restaurants, check-in hall, security screening points, and other amenities that make the journeys of travellers lighter.
Passenger queues forming inside the terminal building are a disgrace and frustrate the large number of leisure and business visitors to the country. The HKIA was designed to handle 250 000 passengers annually but now handles four times that number as the country’s popularity as both a holiday and business destination continues to rise.
In the past few years, Namibia has welcomed major world airlines, such as Qatar Airways, KLM, Ethiopian and Eurowings, while Emirates, Turkish, Kenya Airways and Lufthansa are waiting in the wings.
However, the poor facilities at HKIA remain the biggest threat to the country’s N$15 billion tourism industry and threaten thousands of jobs.
The chaos at our prime airport has largely been caused by greed among some of the senior officials appointed to oversee the airport’s welfare. Schemes to upgrade the airport have for years been driven by some of these unscrupulous officials’ drive to personally benefit from the lucrative airport tenders.
With the HKIA due for an Universal Security Audit in the next few days, prospects don’t look to bright for the airport to meet the required international security standards before the due date and this may result in the detrimental downgrading of the international airport by ICAO.
Failure by authorities to immediately act on the prevailing chaos at Hosea Kutako International Airport will have devastating consequences, not only for the country’s tourism industry but for the entire economy of the country.
It is therefore imperative that this matter must be treated as top priority and be given the necessary attention in order to rectify the flaws at the airport. Surely, the problems faced by HKIA are not insurmountable for the government to address. There’s need to establish what reasonably needs to be done at the airport to improve the facilities and ease the congestion, as a matter of urgency, before government disburses funds for the project.
The advice of international agencies, such as the World Bank, must also not be ignored. Early this year the World Bank advised Namibia to consider partnering with private investors to manage the Hosea Kutako International Airport to ensure efficiency and minimise using taxpayers’ money for airport upgrades.
Perhaps time has come for government to seriously consider a public-private partnership in the administration of HKIA in order to stem the rot and root out corruption by some unscrupulous officials.
It is time to take decisive decisions on the HKIA for the sake of protecting the country’s economy as well as our international reputation.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015