TEDDY KUYELA, Lusaka
GOVERNMENT has constituted a team of experts from line ministries to re-classify the Zambia Air Force (ZAF) Samora Machel airspace in Mbala before it is fully opened to civil aviation and comercial flights.
President Lungu recently opened the ZAF Samora Machel Airbase in Mbala to civil aviation and commercial flights.
The committee, which met in Mbala yesterday, has been tasked to come up with a legal framework that will re-classify the airspace to control air traffic.
The experts have been drawn from the ministries of Transport, Works, Supply and Communications, Finance, Defence, Tourism and Arts and Justice, among others.
Ministry of Defence air secretary Brigadier-General Moses Phiri, who led a team of experts to Mbala on a feasibility study, said in an interview shortly after attending a closed-door meeting that the committee is working hard to expedite the opening of the airspace to the public.
Brig-Gen Phiri said the committee has also been tasked to remove certain security restrictions and to come up with recommendations on which space should be used for security purposes.
He said the opening up of the airbase to civil and commercial flights will help steer economic activities in Northern Province.
â€œWe want to come up with an actualisation plan, which will soon help us to fully open up this airbase to the public.
â€œWe want to put certain measures in place before we fully open up this airbase to the public,â€ Brig-Gen Phiri said.
He said Mbala has a lot of economic activities, which will be revived with the airbase being opened for commercial use.
Meanwhile, Civil Aviation Authority director-general Gabriel Lesa has assured the nation that the team will work hard to ensure the airbase is soon fully opened to the public in line with President Lunguâ€™s directive.
Mr Lesa also said the team of experts is working out effective interventions to help ascertain the number of officers who will be deployed to Mbala, particularly from the Department of Civil Aviation, Ministry of Home Affairs, to work at the airbase.
And ZAF chief of technical services Brigadier-General Stephen Kabanda appealed to Government to acquire additional aircraft for ZAF.
He also cited agriculture and tourism as some of the economic activities that will be revived with the opening of the airbase for commercial flights.
Recently, President Lungu announced the opening of the airbase to the civil aviation and commercial flights.
The President said ZAF will not stop operating from the airbase, but will be sharing the facility with commercial flights, and that commercial aircraft will be subjected to ZAF control.
Mr Lungu said his decision to avail the airport free to the public is a fulfilment of his promise made to the traditional leaders in the area.
TEDDY KUYELA, Lusaka