Construction works on a new taxiway at Rwanda’s main airport, Kigali International Airport, have started.
The 12-month project, according Dr Alexis Nzahabwanimana, the State Minister for Transport, will facilitate easy movement of aircraft and enhance efficiency at the airport, he added.
“A parallel taxiway enhances expedited turnaround of air carriers thus saving time, burning less fuel and saving money,” Nzahabwanimana told Business Times.
The new taxiway is expected to be ready by Apirl 2016, according to Silas Udahemuka, the director general of the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority (RCAA).
Mota-Engil Africa, one of the leading providers of integrated engineering and construction services in sub-Saharan Africa, is undertaking the project, Udahemuka said.
According to aviation experts, RCAA is trying to find ways on how it can effectively implement recommendations by the 37th East African consultative meeting held in Kigali early this year, and 2007 audit findings by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). Experts say both recommended investing in infrastructure that will greatly improve efficiency and safety of equipment and passengers
It is against this background that RCAA is looking to develop new air traffic tower, a VIP terminal, expand the existing apron, as well as put in place an upgraded airfield ground lighting system, among other priorities, before end of 2016.
The airport authorities recently installed a Rwf36 million thermal imaging technology to detect cases of Ebola, among other things.
Alex Buterere, the RwandAir senior manager in charge of grounds operations, said such initiatives, will significantly boost RCAA’s capacity to handle the increasing air traffic at Kigali International Airport and reduce the cost of doing business besides growing the aviation industry.
“There is no doubt, therefore, that this infrastructure development will help enhance the aviation sector and position Rwanda as one of the aviation hubs in the region going forward,” Buterere said.
The airport has experienced growth in international and domestic arrivals from 263,264 in 2008 to 600,000 passengers currently, thanks to the $17.8 million rehabilitation and expansion project that was concluded last year. Under the project, the interior of the terminal building was given a ‘more appealing’ architectural outlook and expanded to handle 1.5 million passengers per year.
Recent studies have ranked the airport as one of the best airports in the region. It was ranked seventh in Africa and the best airport in East Africa in the 2014 survey by Skytrax, a UK-based consultancy firm.
Plans to expand Rubavu Airport under way
According to minister Nzahabwanimana, the government is currently conducting a valuation exercise of the properties on the land earmarked for the expansion of Rubavu Airport in the Western province.
According to the feasibility study conducted by RCAA, the expansion plan includes a runway length of at least 2,000 meters.
The airport is key for the growth of the country’s tourism industry once it is rehabilitated and expanded.
The same goes for the proposed Bugesera International Airport project, one of the mega aviation projects that are tipped to turn around the local aviation industry. The government has already announced issuance of a $1 billion Eurobond to fund the construction of the airport, according to officials at the infrastructure ministry.
As part of the bigger plan to improve the sector, governmnet invested Rwf5.1 billion in repair works at Kamembe International Airport in the Western Province which was recently reopened to traffic.