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The Civil Aviation Authority Botswana (CAAB) has revealed that all the 27 airstrips across the country currently do not have air rescue centres, and rely on the four main airports- Sir Seretse Khama International, Maun International, Phillip Matante International and Kasane International airport for rescue services.
Speaking during a disaster preparedness conference held in Maun this week, CAA Director Air Navigations Sylus Sylus said each airstrip relies on rescue services from an airport closer to it, highlighting that the Gantsi Airstrip currently relies in Maun International Airport rescue center.
He said this leaves airstrips vulnerable in times of disaster outbreaks and delayed rescue services owing to the distances between them and the main airports.
Sylus explained that majority of air-strips across districts are making losses in terms of business hence they are unable to make such developments. He revealed that they currently spend a lot of money in maintaining the airstrips despite the fact that they do not generate any revenue.
“When government passed the Act to give CAAB sole responsibility of airports and airstrips, it also made it clear that the parastatal will undertake its mandate from its profits, hence as a profit oriented entity we cannot invest where there is no revenue,” Sylus said.
He added that in addition to the non-performing airstrips, Land boards on the other hand are also charging them for lease rentals while they also spend a lot on maintenance of the airstrips on annual basis.
The National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) this week hosted a conference that aimed to ensure high state of disaster preparedness and capacity building at national, district and community level so as to enhance effective appropriate and timely response against any disaster of emergency in the country.
CAAB is mandated with the regulation and development of air transport, providing air navigation services, managing airports and advising the government on all aspects of civil aviation. It is Statutory Corporation was established by the Civil Aviation Authority Act of 2004 and it commenced full operations as an autonomous regulator on 1st April 2009. The continued existence of CAAB was provided for by the Civil Aviation Act, 2011 which repealed the previous Act establishing the Authority. Before its establishment, most of its functions were performed by the former Department of Civil Aviation (DCA).