Mutorwa demands answers about airport dilemma

Ronelle Rademeyer
Works and transport minister John Mutorwa is urgently seeking suggestions from the aviation industry on the way forward for the implementation of controversial draft regulations for airports and runways in the country.

In a letter to key players in the industry on Monday, he requested the respective stakeholders' position on the new regulations - in writing within 24 hours.

He also wants the chairpersons of the Namibia Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Namibia Airports Company, Bethuel Mujetenga and Dr Leake Hangala, as well as the president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), Riaan Burger, to spell out their respective positions and make practical recommendations on how the new rules can be implemented.

The planned implementation on 1 October was last week once again in the crossfire when stakeholders met in Windhoek to discuss the "far-reaching negative consequences for the aviation industry as well as for tourism and healthcare in remote areas" with the regulator.

AOPA, together with institutions in the tourism and hunting industry, met with the NCAA to avert what they described as a "possible catastrophe".

Impractical

"The regulations are impractical in their current form and will have far-reaching negative consequences for the aviation industry as well as key economic activities such as tourism and health service delivery in remote areas," the association said in a statement after the meeting.

The proposed regulations will replace existing, well-functioning ones, it said, and make aviation to remote areas impossible and prohibitively expensive.

"Furthermore, efforts to licence and maintain the approximately 860 airfields and runways in Namibia in accordance with the new regulations will cost the owners and taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars," the AOPA said, adding that it is "an almost impossible task for Namibia or any country that operates aviation over such a large, remote area”.