End Nears in Swakopmund Airfield Saga?
Will the latest recommendations by the Swakopmund Council that the controversy surrounding the Swakopmund airfield issue be put to rest result in a ceasefire?
The Swakopmund Council noted at a special meeting on Monday evening that the lease agreement with the current lessee, Messrs Swakopmund Airfield CC, terminates on 31 October 2009.
It recommended that funds be made available for the necessary repairs to the runway and written comments be obtained from the affected parties regarding the future of the airfield by way of invitation for development proposals.
According to the background set out in the agenda the current lessee applied in February 2009 to commence negotiations regarding the possible extension of the lease agreement.
The go-ahead for negotiations was given at an April council meeting, but until 20 August 2009 no amicable terms and common ground for a new lease could be reached. The main obstacles seemed to be the period of extension of the lease and the cost of repairing the runway.
Adding fuel to the flames was the reported dissatisfaction of flight operators using the airfield and the closure of the airfield more than once by the Namibian Airports Company in the past year due to, amongst others, the condition of the airport and runway itself.
The agenda also mentioned the unwillingness of the users of the airfield in the past to abide by the rules and the need to put into pla ce a well-managed airfield. The council will now ask for written comments from affected parties, including development proposals regarding the future specifically the possible selling or leasing of the airfield.
According to the agenda, "the council stands to benefit considerably if the airport is sold as it will mean an immediate cash injection and a continuous income o the rates and taxes".
It is further noted in the agenda that the council does not consider managing the airfield itself. "It is not an option for Council to manage/operate the airport by itself. Swakop Airfield is the second busiest airfield in Namibia and it will only get busier meaning it will require a team of trained senior municipal staff members to operate. The cost of staffing and training is exorbitant and the income generated by the airport would not compensate for the additional requirements such as new infrastructure, rehabilitation and maintenance," the council said.
The meeting was well attended by flight operators as well as occasional users of the airfield. Hopefully the proposals from these stakeholders will serve at least as a basis for negotiations to establish a well-managed airfield to contribute to and enhance the stature of Swakopmund and support the increased development activities in the region.
Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media. (allafrica.com)