Transport department must clarify sub-standard runway lights at upgraded Mthatha airport

By Marshall von Buchenroder (MPL), shadow MEC for Transport:

The DA welcomes the R700 million upgrade of the Mthatha airport.  However, Transport MEC Wesiwe Tikana must clarify the status of the airport’s runway lights which are currently sub-standard as they do not comply with South African Civil Aviation standards.

Fully functional airports are of major importance to boost the economy of the Eastern Cape.

MEC Tikana was quoted in the media last week that the official opening of the airport would take place in October and would “coincide with the switching on of new runway lights, which would enable aircraft to land and take off at night”.

In a reply to a legislature question I asked MEC Tikana, dated 28 July, she said the runway lighting was not compliant and that the National Department of Transport had indicated that they would take responsibility to ensure the correct lighting was installed.  She said it would cost an estimated R22 million.

In the light of recent plane crashes, such as the one in Cape Town on Sunday due to unconfirmed reports that a procedural approach went wrong in low visibility around the Tygerberg area, it is critical that our airports are fully up to standard.

A strong transport network is the backbone of the economy.  This province can be a place of rising opportunity for all if we ensure investor-confidence and the much needed jobs that comes with investment.

I therefore implore MEC Tikana to clarify the aviation compliancy of the Mthatha airport.

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