By JAMES KUNDA –
PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has directed the Copperbelt provincial administration to facilitate the immediate commencement of the construction of a new international airport in Ndola.
Copperbelt Minister Bowman Lusambo said the President also directed that all the 500 settlers on the site of the new airport be relocated to a new land, which they should be given for domestic and commercial use.
The new airport is expected to gobble up more than US$522 million.
Mr Lusambo said this to journalists at State House in Lusaka yesterday after presenting a quarterly report on the province to Mr Lungu.
“The President wants construction of the airport to start now due to its economic importance to the Copperbelt and the country,” said Mr Lusambo, who was in the company of Copperbelt Permanent Secretary Elias Kamanga.
The minister said President Lungu stressed the need for the region to diversify away from mining to agriculture, with emphasis on other cash crops, besides maize.
Mr Lusambo said the Government would continue supporting growth in the mining sector, which was showing stability after a turbulent two years on account of depressed commodity prices.
Meanwhile, Eastern Province Minister Makebi Zulu, who also presented a quarterly provincial report to President Lungu, told journalists that the Head of State wanted crop diversification mechanisms in the region to be enhanced.
Mr Zulu, who was in the company of his Permanent Secretary Chanda Kasolo, said the President directed him to ensure that value-addition to the crop produce was improved.
Lusaka Province Minister Japhen Mwakalombe, in the company of provincial Permanent Secretary Charles Sipanje, also presented a report to Mr Lungu.
Mr Mwakalombe told journalists that President Lungu directed the provincial administration to explore Lusaka’s potential as a tourism destination.
He said the President told the provincial administration to liaise with the ministries of Finance and Infrastructure Development to complete all development projects in the region.