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Angola: Controversy and Contradictions Over New Airports

Angola is getting ready to host the African Cup of Nations (CAN) in 2010, an event that makes the Angolan people ever so proud and motivates the construction of adequate infrastructure to accommodate both football players and foreign visitors. The extension of Luanda international airport – called 4 de Fevereiro (February 4) because the date marks the beginning of the fight for national independence – is on the list of these new developments.

The Angolan government has allocated seventy-four million US dollars for the rehabilitation and expansion of the airport, building work is already underway and expected to last one year. The airport will have a passenger terminal which in turn will have two modern and well equipped boarding rooms and 28 check-in counters with capacity to accommodate over 3 million passengers per year.

The building work will be divided into two phases. The first one will concentrate on arrivals, the car park (with a capacity for about 10 buses, 24 taxis and 650 cars) and the main runway. The second covers the boarding area and the second floor.

Luanda Airport

The project has received compliments. Maria Liberdade [pt], from Meninos à Volta da Fogueira [Boys around the Bonfire] blog publishes the above image and says how happy she is:

“Boas notícias. Hoje foi-nos apresentado o projecto para o novo aeroporto de Luanda e pudemos saber mais detalhes sobre este projecto colossal que é uma das obras que mais impacto terá na nova imagem da cidade de Luanda, com capacidade para albergar até ao ultimo Airbus A380. O novo aeroporto é a cúspide da modernidade. Esperamos que além das estruturas projectadas, os projectistas tenham em conta espaço para futuras ampliações, pois o país continua a crescer. Espero aterrar no novo aerporto em 2010, como o previsto”.

“Good news. Today we were introduced to the new Luanda Airport project and to more details about this colossal development which is one of the projects having most impact on the new image of the city of Luanda, with a capacity to house even the latest Airbus A380 [the Airbus A380 is the largest passenger airliner in the world]. The new airport is on the cusp of modernity. We hope that beyond the planned structures, designers will have room for future expansions in mind, as the country continues to grow. I hope to land at the new airport in 2010, as planned.”

It should be noted that there were plans for the construction of another brand new airport, funded by China, but those works have been halted for the time being to make way for the rehabilitation and expansion of the already existing 4 de Fevereiro airport. But on this subject, there are controversial and contradictory statements by some leaders and unfavorable opinions about its chosen location. The author of the Desabafos angolanos [Angolan Disencumbering, pt] blog is among one of these voices:

“Vai ser construído um novo Aeroporto Internacional, que ninguém sabe em quanto está orçado, sabe-se apenas que vai ser financiado com crédito concedido pela China. O novo aeroporto vai-se situar na província do Bengo no Bom Jesus e não foi aprovado em Conselho de Ministros e segundo o Jornal Angonotícias, a mão de obra é maioritariamente chinesa, quando há milhões de angolanos desempregados. Que vergonha! Descrédito total pela democracia, pela assembleia e pelos angolanos). Gostava de saber se o governo ou as pessoas que autorizaram esta construção, esperam o crescimento do tráfego aéreo e o crescimento de turistas em Angola; se há estudos que provem que Luanda precisa mesmo de mais um aeroporto e quantas vão ser as companhias aéreas que vão operar a rota Luanda?!

Temos as passagens mais caras do mercado! Turismo no nosso país, não existe! Como pensam ligar o Bengo a Luanda? Os turistas aterram no aeroporto (a intenção é construir um grande aeroporto moderno e luxuoso) e assim que saem, só vêem bairros de lata até chegar a Luanda, em estradas esburacas e cheias de trânsito desordeiro, sem transportes públicos ou seja, chegam a uma cidade cheia de caos, suja e sem beleza!

Acredito que se este projecto for adiante e isto é a minha opinião, os angolanos vão pagar uma factura cara sem necessidade. Estou de acordo que o nosso actual aerporto não nos serve e mete dó…mas isso só porque está sub-aproveitado e mal gerido.”

“A new international airport will be built, nobody knows how large its budget is, it is only known that it will be financed with loans provided by China. The new airport will be situated in the province of Bengo, in Bom Jesus, it was not approved by the Council of Ministers and, according to the newspaper Angonotícias, the labor force is mostly Chinese, when millions of Angolans are unemployed. What a shame! A total discredit to the democracy, to the Parliament and to the Angolan people). I wonder whether the government or the people who have allowed this construction expected a growth in air traffic and a growth in tourists [coming] to Angola, if there are studies showing that Luanda needs more than one airport and how many airlines will operate routes to Luanda?

We have the most expensive flights in the market! There is no tourism in our country! How do they imagine they will connect Bengo to Luanda? Tourists will arrive at the airport (the idea is to build a large, modern and luxurious airport) and as soon as they leave, they will only see slum neighborhoods all the way to Luanda, going through hollow roads full of rowdy transit, without public transport, in other words they will arrive at a chaotic, dirty and charmless city!

I believe that if this project goes ahead, and this is just my opinion, Angolans will pay an expensive and needless bill. I agree that our current Airport is useless and something of which to be ashamed… but this is only because it is under-utilized and poorly managed.”

Other local aiports, such as the ones in the provices of Huambo, Benguela, Cabinda, Luena, Kuíto, Saurimo and Dundo, will also undergo modernization.

2 comments

  • concerned

    And what about the poor people that are being forced out of their homes to make way for this construction?

  • Jorge de Almeida

    Hi there, does anyone know who Maria Liberdade is?

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