NAIROBI, 4 February (IRIN) - A 12-month
long rehabilitation of Goma international airport in eastern Democratic
Republic of the Congo (DRC) began on Saturday in an effort to reclaim 500
metres of runway that were buried under lava flows from Mt Nyiragongo on
18 January 2002, Rwanda News Agency (RNA) reported on Monday.
The runway, which originally measured 3,000 metres long, will be extended from its present length of 2,100 metres to 2,600 metres, thereby enabling larger aircraft to access the airport. Runway lighting and drainage systems will also be upgraded.
"With its reduction in size to 2,100 metres, the largest planes we were able to accommodate were the Antonov 12," Raymond Sangara Bera, coordinator of the Regie des Voies Aeriennes (RVA) in eastern DRC, was quoted as saying. Permissible cargo loads were also reduced, from 22 mt to 15 mt.
According to RNA, the cost of the rehabilitation was not made public. It is being financed by the Fondation Katebe, headed by Raphael Soriano Katebe Katoto, a Congolese millionaire businessman and political opposition leader who recently joined the Rwandan-backed Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie rebel movement, headquartered in Goma.
"The rehabilitation of Goma airport will contribute to the economic development and re-opening of North Kivu Province, and therefore to the quality of life of its residents," Katebe was quoted as saying.
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