THE government will fork out N$245 million to upgrade the Hosea Kutako International Airport before the end of 2019.
This was revealed by the Namibia Airports Company's (NAC) board chairperson, Leake Hangala, at a media briefing yesterday.
At the event, he acknowledged that the airport has reached its capacity, and therefore requires "urgent expansion and upgrading to meet the demands of increasing aircraft and passenger numbers", as well as international security and safety requirements.
Hangala said the urgent upgrading projects would include the revamp and modernising of the check-in and departure halls, security screening point, arrivals hall, and the luggage handling areas.
The Namibian reported last month that the estimates given for the upgrade was N$95 million.
The N$95 million was to be used, among others, for renovating the check-in area, baggage feeder conveyor and reclaim belts, additional counters and furniture, passenger screening equipment and special airport systems.
Hangala did not explain yesterday what had caused the escalation in the estimates to N$245 million.
According to him, the NAC will contribute N$95 million from its resources, and the balance will be provided by the shareholder (the government).
"We accept that the current state of affairs is making it difficult for the country's largest airport to comply with all standards and recommendations of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). Outside the airport terminal, long queues often form when two or three large aircraft land at the same time, while the baggage collection section currently only has two carousels.
"The immigration access at the airport is also limited as there are only two security checkpoints, which resulted in congestion and long queues at times. These will all be improved in the envisaged project that we are presently working on," he said.
Hangala added that the installation of a closed-circuit television (CCTV) surveillance and intrusion detection system at the airport has commenced.
The company has already appointed a local architectural firm - Kerry McNamara Architects - to work on the design of the project.
The company, he said, will work with "an international aviation company based in South Africa as their partner".
The design of the project is expected to be completed by the end of December, the actual work will start by March, and the project will be expected to be completed by November 2019.
Although Hangala did not reveal how much the government will pay for consulting fees and the design of the project, he promised that the money will be used for its intended purposes. "I would like to assure the nation that such funds will be managed in the most accountable and transparent manner. It must be used for that purpose only. Time has come for Namibia to make sure that we use our resources properly and accountably," he said.
Plans to upgrade the airport come at a time when the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs, defence and security released a report revealing serious security shortcomings at Namibia's biggest airport.
The Namibian reported last month about concerns that the Hosea Kutako International Airport could be downgraded at the upcoming ICAO inspection this month. Hangala, however, said the NAC and other stakeholders have "managed to close various security gaps, and will continue addressing evolving issues", even after the ICAO audit.
He further stated that the proposed upgrades will have minimal effect on the current airport operations, "which will continue as usual".
NAC acting chief executive officer Lot Haifidi yesterday said they were ready for the ICAO inspection.