News: R185m runway upgrade for EL airport
The Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) has invested R185m in an East London airport runway upgrade project, the largest expenditure in the airport`s history, airport manager Michael Kernekamp said. The project to rehabilitate "aging" infrastructure took off in January and is scheduled to run for 15 months at a cost of R185m.
A construction tender was awarded to Power Engineering Group after a nine-month detailed assessment, design and contract administration conducted by Gibbs Consulting Engineering, which was concluded in December last year.
"The magnitude of this project is by far the single largest undertaken in this airport`s history with about 65 000 tons of asphalt being required through the construction, scheduled for completion in April 2013," said Kernekamp.
This quantity of asphalt is equivalent to paving about 70km of a major single carriageway road."
Simon Tetley, project leader and senior associate at Arcus Gibb, said the works would mainly involve strengthening of the existing runways and taxiways to provide the required bearing capacity for anticipated future aircraft traffic loading.
"The current status of the existing infrastructure, while still compliant with regulations, is aging due to normal wear and tear given the average annual aircraft movements of 28 000 over the years," said Acsa domestic airports project engineer Arvind Jeewan.
The local business chamber said while the project was aimed at maintaining infrastructure in keeping with international safety standards and regulations, its positive spin-offs include attracting investments in the long term and creating jobs in the short term.
"The amount of money spent in the project is a sign of major opportunities and financial disbursements in terms of business and employment," said Border-Kei Chamber of Business executive director Les Holbrook.
He lauded the Acsa investment in the East London air terminal as testimony that the Airports Company recognised Buffalo City Metro`s status as a major player in the global economy and tourism sector.
"The most important fact is ensuring the terminal remains within international standards.
"We welcome the investment and the fact Acsa recognises Buffalo City as an emerging economic hub. We need to remain connected and internationally relevant."
He added the long-term vision should be to look at upgrading the East London air terminal to international airport status able to handle bigger aircraft.
Kernekamp said the project was geared towards ensuring there would be no disruptions to airport operations and the travelling public.
"This scheduled rehabilitation, and other ongoing runway improvement projects will necessitate nightly closures of the runways through 2012 and into early 2013.
"The project is carefully coordinated so the regular daily airline flights scheduled between 6am and 8:30pm can continue to operate on the runways during the project period," he said.
This is the second major upgrade of the airport facilities in less than three years, following the renovations to the terminal, which saw the transport department spend R100million before the 2010 Fifa Soccer World Cup.
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