11 August 2017

Rwanda: Bugesera Residents Eye Jobs as Works on New Airport Take Off

Photo: New Times
Earthmoving equipment at the site.

Richard Niyonzima, a 23 year-old university graduate from Bugesera District, is upbeat on the job and entrepreneurship prospects in the near future.

He has his sights on securing a job at the proposed Bugesera International Airport after construction of the facility was launched on Wednesday by President Paul Kagame.

Niyonzima hopes to be among the 6,000 employees to be hired by Bugesera Airport Company, a joint venture between the government, through Aviation Travel and Logistics Holding Limited and the contractor, Mota Engil Africa.

He has also had conversations with partners on setting up a restaurant close to the construction site to provide meals and drinks to the thousands of workers at the site.

Marcel Uwajeneza, a Kigali-based pharmacist, says that, together with his family, they are working on building a rental house on a piece of land they own close to the airport, to tap into the growing demand for housing in the area.

Among the low hanging fruits of the project is the thousands of jobs that the construction of the facility will create with officials saying most of the opportunities will go to locals.

Local business people, especially in the construction industry, are also set to see increased business in the course of the facilities construction.

Already in phase of leveling the ground on which the facility will be set up, a number of local firms have been sub-contracted to provide earth moving machines.

The Mayor of Bugesera District, Emmanuel Nsanzumuhire, told The New Times that in the coming days, they expect to see a more thriving business environment in the area as entrepreneurs move to provide goods and services to staff on site.

"We also expect construction of new hotels, infrastructure," he added.

Along the road and the surrounding areas one can see new homes coming up.

"This project will change people's lives in terms of jobs and business opportunities," the Mayor said.

Opportunities loom in almost every field; entertainment, financial services, medical and food supplies among other household consumables. The airport will not only transform the lives of the Bugesera people, but their city as well.

Rilima, the site of the airport, is approximately 15 kilometres off the main road and has inadequate supply of utilities such as piped water, electricity and internet connection.

According to the Minister for Infrastructure, James Musoni, in the course of next year, these utilities will be available and not only for the airport but the residents too will be catered for.

"We will set up an airport city around the facility which will have hotels, banks and a logistics centre, among others. This will see a new city come up around the area," Musoni said.

To ensure that the contractor delivers as per the agreement, they were required to prove their financial capacity which included signing two bonds. This is an addition the extensive due diligence carried out by the government.

Rwanda Development Board chief executive Clare Akamanzi told The New Times that there are also penalties involved in the event the firm does not deliver as agreed.

"We do due diligence before engaging such firms. Like for this firm, they signed about two bonds including a performance bond and there are also penalties in the event they do not perform," she explained.

Akamanzi added that the government's willingness to share the risk has exhibited Rwanda's seriousness in the project.

"The government was willing to take part in the risk by putting in some equity as well as some shareholders bond. This showed them that we were serious in the project.

"The investment in RwandAir shows that there is confidence in the aviation industry. They have also seen that we are growing our tourism sector which currently attracts over 1 million tourists per year," Akamanzi said.

Lucky Cheong the chief executive of Aviation, Travel and Logistics Holding Limited (ATL Ltd), said that, to ensure that the project meets the set standards, independent engineers have been brought in as well.

"As Bugesera Airport Company, we have hired independent engineers to have a lot of checks and balances," he said.

The first phase, which is set to be complete in December 2019, will see the airport have capacity of about 1.8 million annually costing about $400m.

Consequent phases, which are estimated to cost about $414m, will see the airport have capacity of about 6m passengers every year by 2045.

Among the expected features of the facility include, a 30,000sqm passenger terminal, modern cargo handling facilities, 22 check-in counters, six boarding bridges, and multiple commercial spaces.

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