By Zamchro Correspondent,
President Rupiah Banda has disclosed that government will turn Mbala Air Force Base into an international airport to increase passage of tourists to the area. Mbala Air Force Base is one of the most sophisticated air bases on the continent of Africa.It was built with the help of the Russians during the time when Zambian was strongly pro-former Soviet Union and was considered by the Russians as a strong ally. Its runway with capacity to handle any kind of fleet (commercial or military planes) can prove to be one of the best international gateways to Northern, Luapula and Eastern provinces of Zambia.
Commercial flights to and from Mbala International Airport could boost the region as a strategic hub not only for commercial purposes but also public ones as well. Mbala Air Force Base has some of the most modern air traffic control systems that can easily be converted into civilian international aviation use with great ease.
Its altitude would make it one of the highest points to take off from in Africa reminiscent of Johannesburg International Airport though not as quite.
The President said this during his tour of Kasaba Bay Lodge where he intimated that several investors have approached the Zambian government with a view to invest in there.
President Banda has cited Matetsi Wildlife of Zimbabwe which is planning to invest an initial amount of $8 million in Kasaba Bay lodge once given the lease. The Zambian leader said government is working hard to ensure that investors set up businesses in the Northern circuit tourism sector which also includes Luapula province.
And Matetsi Wildlife Director, Charles Davy, who met the President, said he has been asked to push in a proposal which the Zambian government will look at. Mr. Davy said the development plan for the area is to turn it into an internationally competitive resort.
The President said Northern Province has a lot of potential that government wants to turn into reality for the benefit of the people and the country. Speaking after touring Kasaba bay lodge, Thursday, the President said the lodge will play a big role in the promotion of the northern circuit to tourism.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has given Zambia the go ahead to tar the pedicle road. Katanga Province Governor, Moses Katumbi says Zambia can recover the money spent on the road by charging toll gate fees.
Mr. Katumbi says President Joseph Kabila has agreed to the plan by the Zambian Government to tar the road. He was speaking soon after meeting mines minister, Maxwell Mwale and Copperbelt minister Mwansa Mbulakulima in Ndola, Thursday.
Mr. Katumbi said the meeting discussed how best the Zambian government can access copper concentrates from the DRC. He said existing relations between Zambia and the DRC should be strengthened to ensure development in both countries.
And Mr. Mbulakulima said the ban on maize exports to the DRC by the Zambian Government is due to the shortage of maize in the country. Mr. Mbulakulima was answering questions from DRC journalists who wanted to know why the government has banned the export of maize to the former Zaire.
And Tourism Minister, Catherine Namugala disclosed to Zambian Chronicle that government has released K20 billion for the construction of a good road network to make Lake Tanganyika area more accessible.
Ms. Namugala said the best way to enhance tourism in the Northern circuit is to engage in private and public partnership. President Banda who was on a tour of development projects in Kasama has since returned to Lusaka.
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