Government’s multi-billion kwacha airport city project around Kamuzu International Airport is now close to take off as its implementing agency has sanctioned a feasibility study to assess the practicality of a proposed plan.
The project, being managed by Airport Development Limited (ADL), has been in the pipeline for years.
Planned to be constructed at Lumbadzi, Lilongwe, the project structures will include an office park, a hotel with world class golf-course, international hospital, high-end shopping mall, international school, international university and export processing zone.
ADL yesterday issued a tender in Weekend Nation calling for proposals from consultants for the feasibility study.
It read in part: “The study outputs will, therefore, include the following reports: preliminary designs for the airport master plan; preliminary designs and layout of the proposed Aero-City; preliminary environmental and safety assessment report; economic impact assessment report.”
In an interview yesterday, ADL spokesperson Wezzie Gondwe said all things being constant they expect the feasibility study results to be out by next year.
She said the project will be implemented through a Public Private Partnership (PPP).
Said Gondwe: “The feasibility study will inform the project’s schedule and possible completion dates for all components. However, our intention is to have it completed by 2028.
“A PPP project requires a feasible study to be undertaken. In the past there has not been any feasibility study so we couldn’t embark on the project. That is why now we want to do this feasibility so that processes for starting the project can start to be undertaken.”
Gondwe said the major challenge they are facing is encroachment of their land, including the project site, with up to 500 hectares invaded through settlements and agricultural activities.
She said: “We are reviewing all the records regarding ownership of the subject land with all concerned stakeholders and we are following and respecting the procedures of land acquisition in respect to the Land Act.
“We are also reviewing the available records to confirm whether the concerned encroachers are eligible to receive compensation or not.”
There are about four villages that are suspected to have settlements on the ADL land, namely Mchepa, Zilungwi, Majamanda and Kachindamoto.
Gondwe said they have been engaging the communities to find a solution to the land ownership and was optimistic the people would relocate through legal procedures.
“The approach we are using, which is consulting all stakeholders, including the encroachers, has helped community leaders and those who encroached our land to understand that the land indeed belongs to ADL.
“However, they are asking for compensation because they have been using the land for many years. We are seeking guidance and discussing with them through other key stakeholders like the District Commissioner and Department of Lands,” she said.
The area includes Mchepa Trading Centre, located about two kilometres away from the airport and along the western part of the road that connects the airport and ADL’s Lumbadzi Housing Estate.
The trading centre has all the basic goods and service providers, including makeshift butcheries, maize mills, fresh farm produce kiosks and grocery shops.
Nation on Sunday spoke to Village Head Zilungwi whose area of jurisdiction the trading centre falls under, and he confirmed that ADL has been meeting communities to sell them the idea of the aero city.
He, however, expressed concern over the lack of commitment to offer compensation.
Said Zilungwi: “Mind you, for most of us, this is the only place we have called home. ADL has not been fair when it comes to compensation. We gave up land for a vegetable farm project after they promised to compensate us, but most were not paid anything. This is why we are saying that if they want us to move out, everybody should be compensated accordingly.”
The aero city overview shows that the project site is adjacent to the existing airport, on the northern and southern part of the estate.
Reads the overview: “The project aims to increase, among other things, access to employment and quality of life for the citizens of Malawi while enhancing service delivery standards to visitors and tourists from abroad.”
The Airport City will be well adapted to catering for business travellers, tourists, office occupants, dwellers, students and local Malawian day visitors, further states the overview.