By Petronella Sibeene
The Karas Regional Council says it will soon start revamping the Keetmanshoop Airport in preparation for an influx of air travellers who will flock to the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup to be hosted by South Africa.
The region hopes to capitalise on this world event especially that participating countries are likely to be hosted in countries neighbouring South Africa.
Mayor of the Karas Region, Fiina Elago, in an interview with New Era yesterday said councillors in the region held a one-day consultative meeting with the Deputy Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development in Keetmanshoop. The meeting discussed ways in which the region could source funds and embark on the project as early as possible.
The meeting further looked at other socio-economic development issues in the region.
“We want to capitalise on 2010. We hope to host some of the teams and we are going to talk to all stakeholders so that they can also help the Government in developing the country,” said the Mayor.
Elago said the Keetmanshoop Airport is the second largest in the country and has potential to handle big planes.
In Namibia, air traffic is expected to increase by over 36 percent during this period.
She said during a familiarisation tour to the Karas Region last October, the Nigerian High Commissioner expressed interest in the region saying should his national team qualify for the 2010 World Cup, they would use the region for camping.
The regional council will also engage the hospitality industry to ensure lodging facilities are attractive during this period.
During the consultative meeting, a committee was appointed to work out how much it will cost to revamp the airport.
The committee is expected to present the figures to the regional council by the end of the month after which activities aimed at soliciting funds will be rolled out.
Renovating the Keetmanshoop Airport will ensure that training activities by Namibia Aviation Training Academy (NATA) are carried out in the Karas Region.
Currently, training is conducted at the Eros Airport in Windhoek.
Under the NATA umbrella, students from Namibia, as well as neighbouring countries, are trained in aviation disciplines.
Preparations for the 2010 World Cup by the aviation industry started last year.
President of the Namibian Air Traffic Controllers Association (NAMATCA), George Matroos says air traffic congestion, not only from aircraft flying through Namibian airspace but also landing at its airports, is likely in 2010.
Considering that already, air travel in Namibia has increased by over 15 percent since 2000, during the World Cup, players and spectators are likely to fly through Namibia and even stay before their teams play.
Matroos said NAMATCA is in the process of recruiting 12 air traffic controllers who will undergo intensive training and will be fully qualified for the job by 2010.