THE Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport says the country’s airports are operating without radar systems exposing the country’s security aviation systems.
During a post-budget consultative meeting with parastatals in the transport sector Thursday, committee chairperson Oscar Gorerino expressed grave concerns over the continuous change and cancellation of contracts to tender winners to install the radar systems.
Radar systems consist of traffic communication, which enables traffic controllers to communicate with pilots. The radars also improve surveillance of the civilian airspace.
“It is very dangerous to have a non-functional radar system for a nation. Why is it taking too long to be upgraded?” Gorerino asked Transport Ministry secretary Theodius Chinyanga.
“There is need for a change of strategy on the radar system. What is worrying is the continuous change of tender awards all the time without any progress on the ground.”
Gorerino advised Chinyanga to organise a meeting between the MPs and the Chinese company, China Harbour Equipment Company (CHEC), that was awarded the tender to upgrade the system.
“We want to have a meeting with the Chinese company that you contracted. We cannot continue to operate without a proper radar system. It is very dangerous in terms of security,” Gorerino told the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) executives.
CHEC was awarded the tender as a sole bidder through a restricted process that excluded bidders from the West.
Gorerino also raised concerns of mineral leakages adding it was important for Zimbabwe to have compatible radar systems that allows improved communication and monitor the illegal smuggling of minerals.
The Transport Ministry secretary told the committee, the Treasury had failed to avail $3,4 million CAAZ requested for the purchase and installation of a new radar system at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.
Private aircraft were reported to be sneaking in-and-out of Zimbabwe’s airports without detection due to poor surveillance.
Turning to the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ), Gorerino raised concerns over the poor state of the rail system where trains are operating without GPS for communication and location purposes.
He said the NRZ locomotives were over 35 years yet their life span was for only 25 years.
“The National Railways of Zimbabwe system needs complete revamping. The infrastructure is obsolete,” said Gorerino.
However, the Transport Ministry secretary, Chinyanga told the committee, his ministry was satisfied with the financial support from the Treasury in the 2022 national budget.
The ministry’s bid for 2022 was for $82,2 Billion, and it was allocated $60 billion.