Aimed at boosting direct tourism and economic development into the uMkhanyakude region, the R67 million Mkuze Airport project is standing on the brink of collapse.
The discovery was made during an oversight inspection by the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) portfolio committee, held yesterday.
During the visit it was established that the terminal building is currently standing at 60% completion (view here and here) – but may well be significantly delayed due to the non-transfer of funds from Provincial Treasury and KZN’s Department of Transport (DoT).
It is anticipated that the entire project may come to a stop within a week should Treasury and DoT respectively fail to make the allocated R10 million and R25 million tranche payments. Information indicates that Treasury is awaiting the DoT payment which was scheduled to be transferred in March.
Boasting the second longest runway in KZN, and strategically situated in the heart of the Northern tourism corridor, Mkuze Airport has massive potential to assist the uMkhanyakude region.
Importantly, the district ranks as one of the poorest in the country and plans to link the airport to international tourism visits, motor sports and a proposed commercial development would significantly boost the economy.
Instead, inter-departmental disputes and late payments are potentially destroying any progress. Regrettably this is the hallmark of government ineptitude and may, in this case, lead to a major blow to the poorest of municipal regions.
The DA has posed written parliamentary questions to KZN EDTEA MEC Ravi Pillay. We sincerely hope that he will give this matter the attention it deserves and intervene to secure the funds this critical project needs to stay on course.