By Leonard Masauli
Lilongwe, June, 2, Mana: The Japanese government has handed over MK2.5 billion worth of Airport Ground Support Equipment to Malawi through Lilongwe Handling Company (LIHACO) meant to improve effectiveness and efficiency of operations at the Airport.
During a handover ceremony held at Kamuzu International Airport Thursday, Japanese Ambassador Satoshi Iwakiri said the procurement of the equipment was part of a project meant to expand the terminal building at Kamuzu International Airport, among other support.
The Ambassador noted that the handover of the airport ground equipment was significant as it would improve effectiveness and efficiency of operations such as management of airplanes, cargo and passengers, especially those with special needs.
“We are here to witness another milestone achieved in our cooperation in the air transport sector achieved through the procurement of various ground support equipment worth approximately, 300 million Japanese Yen (MK2.5 billion).
“It is my hope, the equipment will improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the operations and how you manage cargo and passengers, especially those with special needs,” said Iwakiri.
The Ambassador has since asked the Lilongwe Handling Company to provide necessary care and maintenance for the equipment in order to sustain the effective and efficient operations.
Minister of Transport Jacob Hara thanked the government of Japan through the Ambassador, saying the grant is timely since the airport was lacking essential equipment for day-to-day operations.
“The grant is timely and will go a long way to improve operations at the airport. The equipment among others, enables loading and offloading cargo to airplanes and this will further ensure that Malawi is able to handle even big aircraft that have not yet landed at the airport.
“As a country, we are looking at Malawi 2063 agenda and this kind of development is in line with our plans to boost tourism and as a transport ministry. We are there to provide a good transport platform and be able to handle the visitors well and so the equipment will put Malawi on international standards,” said Hara
The Minister said apart from the ground support equipment, the Japanese government is also supporting the development of a masterplan that will guide the maintenance of Chileka Airport, whose progress has delayed. According to Hara, the deplorable state of the airport terminal buildings possibly requires new construction.
The Board Chairperson for Lilongwe Handling Company Limited, Gift Nankhuni thanked the Japanese government for the support which he said would address huge challenges in cargo handling. He further assured the ambassador that LIHACO would take good care of the equipment.
The handed over equipment included Ambulift, Air start unit, Towing Tractor, Tow Bar, Boom Lift and Cargo High Loader which shall be used for loading and offloading aviation containers for cargo airplane. Apart from the equipment, the Japanese government has also invested in the construction of new terminal building, rehabilitation of the passenger terminal, procurement and installation of equipment such as aircraft surveillance system at the airport.