Maputo — About 270 families who built houses within the area belonging to the airport in the southern Mozambican city of Inhambane will be removed to restore the security and visibility conditions necessary for airport operations.
According to the Mayor of Inhambane, Benedito Guimino, the houses were built without any authorisation from the municipality. The families involved will be compulsorily removed as from this week. Places to resettle them have been found in the Inhambane neighbourhoods of Muele III, Marambone and Malembwane.
The houses were built with zinc sheeting and some of the families have been living there for more than 15 years. Some of the houses are about 80 metres from the runway.
The Mozambican Civil Aviation Authority (IACM) has warned that the situation is a danger to aircraft, and threatened that, unless the houses are removed by June. Inhambane airport could be closed.
According to the independent daily paper "O Pais", only in 2020 did the Public Prosecutor's Office in Inhambane understand the seriousness of the situation.
It then started the operations to remove all the families from the airport's land. According to prosecutor Pompilo Xaver, the first move was to order the water and electricity providers, FIPAG and EDM to cut off water and power to the illegally built houses.
Now the Mayor has insisted that the families will have to dismantle their houses, and rebuild them in the resettlement areas the municipality has found for them.
Removing these houses may allow the Airport company AdM to push ahead with long delayed plans to expand and modernise Inhambane airport. For years, the company has wanted to lengthen the Inhambane runway from the current 1,500 metres to 2,700 metres.