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KZN’s new airport on track
24 Oct 2008
Kavith Harrilall

Although significant progress has been made over the past year, very tight deadlines have to be met to ensure that KwaZulu-Natal’s new international airport at La Mercy opens on time — on May 1, 2010.

According to officials from the Airports Company of South Africa (Acsa) who briefed Transport Minister Jeff Radebe on the progress of construction during a site visit yesterday, almost R3 billion has been spent on the project so far.

The R6,8-billion airport also boasts a facility known as the Dube TradePort (DTP), elevating the total cost to about R8 billion.

“The project is on track for completion [and] I must also say that there are very tight targets that we must meet,” conceded Bongani Maseko, group executive of airport operations at Acsa.

He said they are in the process of appointing a German consultancy firm to advise Acsa.

This firm was involved in a similar “change-over” of airports in Münich.

“I can say that we have already started interacting with international carriers from the East [and] carriers from Europe,” said Maseko.

Acsa will undertake a four-month testing and commissioning exercise once the airport is completed at the end of next year.

About 3 500 construction jobs have been created so far.

This figure will grow to about 6 000 at the peak of construction activity.

Acsa believes that about 5 000 full-time jobs will be created once the facility is opened.

The airport will have an annual capacity of 7,5 million passengers in the first phase.

The site is located between Sibiya Casino and the Tongaat Toll Plaza, using the N2 (northbound) freeway as a reference point.

The briefing yesterday was followed by a sod-turning ceremony on the road that provides access to the site, off the R102.

Colin Naidoo, communications and brand manager at Durban International Airport, said that the first steel supports for the roof truss were recently placed on the departures slab.

He added that the basement level of the multi-storey parkade has already been completed.

“The runway and taxiways construction with the lower sub base on the runway has been completed and the upper sub base already commissioned. With the control tower being the most visible facility if travelling from the north, the construction of the cab of the control tower is complete.

“The cargo terminal is [at a] very advanced [stage] now,” added Sean van der Valk, project manager at Acsa.

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