in Features / Airports

Zambia fired up by safety improvements

Posted 29 May 2018 · Add Comment

Zambia has improved its fire and rescue services at the time when the southern African nation has made progress in reviving the national airline. Humphrey Nkonde reports.

The Zambian aviation industry in collapsed following the decision by President Frederick Chiluba’s government to liquidate the then state-run Zambia Airways in 1994.
Improvements in fire and rescue services have come at the time when the government has announced a revival of the national airline through a public private partnership with Ethiopian Airlines.
The government will have a 55% share in the partnership, while the remaining 45% has been reserved for Africa’s major airline.
By 2009, safety standards in the civil aviation sector had deteriorated, which resulted in the European Union (EU) banning aircraft registered in Zambia from landing in its territory.
This was after an oversight audit by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in 2009.
After meeting safety standards and establishing an independent Zambian Civil Aviation Authority (ZCAA), the EU lifted the ban in 2016.
ICAO’s audit in 2009 was carried out under the universal safety oversight programme (USOP), which came up with 98 safety concerns about Zambia.
To counter these, the Zambian Government has embarked on various projects in which it has acquired fire tenders and ambulances.
Bigger airports, like the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in the capital, Lusaka, and the Copperbelt International Airport, in Ndola, on the Copperbelt are developing modern fire and rescue stations.
The government, through the ZCAA, recently acquired six fire (foam) tenders for various airports throughout the country, the Zambia Air Services Training Institute (ZASTI) in Lusaka and the Zambia Air Force (ZAF).
The fire and rescue station is part of the upgrades at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport being completed at cost of $360 million.
Kenneth Kaunda International Airport’s fire and rescue station includes eight parking bays for fire tenders, a watch tower, a separate parking bay for ambulances and a crash aid wing.
It is being serviced by three Carmichael fire (foam) tenders, each with a capacity of 10,474 litres of foam, 1,263 litres of water and 225 kilogrammes of dry chemical powder, according to information provided by the Zambia Airports Corporation Limited (ZACL).
In Ndola, the city will, for the first time, have a category 10 fire and rescue station when Copperbelt International Airport, now under construction, is completed.
ZACL is developing the Copperbelt International Airport at a cost of $397 million.
Ndola is currently being serviced by the Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport, which currently has a category eight fire and rescue station.
Safety standards have also been extended to smaller and provincial airports located in the rural parts of the country.
For instance, Mfuwe International Airport, on the border with Malawi, which services South Luangwa Game Park, has acquired a Titan 4x4 E-One fire (foam) engine.
The airport is prone to bush fires because it located in a thick forest.
South Luangwa Game Park is one of the largest in Africa and has attracted tourists from Europe, Asia, the Americas and other parts of the world.
Bush fires are common in the area because the local people have a tradition of hunting mice and burning bushes to clear the forest.
Meanwhile, Kasama Airport, a provincial facility in the Northern Province, has acquired three E-One fire (foam) tenders, two Iveco ambulances and a British Land Rover Defender for fire and rescue services.
Kasama Airport will soon attract large aircraft, meaning that the landing facility will require a modern fire and rescue station.
China’s Anhui Shui’an Construction Group is developing a 4,600 metre bituminous runway and the airport will also have a new control tower.
The current fire and rescue station is an open shed that was used previously used by the Food Reserve Agency as a storage shed for maize.
 

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