- The Cape Verdean Ministry of Transport promises that the delayed international airport in Praia, the capital, will be finalised by the end of this year. All international traffic to Cape Verde still goes to Sal Island, the country's main tourism resort, but Praia airport is given a good chance of becoming an Atlantic hub.
Transport Minister Manuel Inocêncio during a meeting at the Cape Verdean Council of Infrastructure and Transports yesterday announced that Praia International Airport will be finalised by the end of this year.
Works on the new Praia airport were paralysed some three years ago as the major infrastructure project was short funded. These works were reinitiated in July last year, after new funds had been set aside, the Transport Minister said. The Ministry expected the works to be finalised within less then half a year.
In July 2003, Minister Inocêncio gave the orders to restart construction works on the airport and announced that these works would take a total of ten months. At the same time, the Minister promised there would not be "any more surprises in relation to the financing until the works have concluded."
For the Cape Verdean Transport Ministry, the recent challenges to improve infrastructure in the archipelago have been tough. Improved connections between the islands and strengthened links with the outside world have been seen as the most important prerequisite to develop Cape Verde's two sectors of special attention; tourism and fisheries.
The new Praia airport is part of the concentration on new basic infrastructure that is to boost tourism and Cape Verdean exports. The international airport is to be able to treat aircrafts like the Airbus 320 or the Boeing models 757-300 and 737-200 - aircrafts that must be used on flights to for example Europe and the US.
While almost all European tourism to Cape Verde now is concentrated on the island of Sal, authorities hope that in future, also the capital and the island of Santiago may enjoy tourism revenues. Further, Praia airport may develop into a regional hub for trans-Atlantic flights. South African Airways already uses the Sal Airport to make fuel stops on its flights to and from Atlanta (USA).
Meanwhile, at the Council of Infrastructure and Transports, Minister Inocêncio also announced that other infrastructure projects were making progress. The São Domingos-Assomada highway, he said, would be ready by the end of the year. Further, the Ministry this year was to present studies for a programme of construction of secondary roads on the islands of Santiago, São Vicente, São Nicolau, Santo Antão and Maio.
Other objectives for 2004, according to Mr Inocêncio, were the restructuring of the national airliner, Transportadora Aérea de Cabo Verde (TACV), and the improvement of the maritime connections between the archipelago's many islands. Several new ferries were to be purchased in 2004, he told the Council.
- The consolidation of the restructuring process of TACV, the entering into force of the new system of air traffic control and the termination of the viability studies of a transformation of Sal International Airport are other of our objectives, concluded the Cape Verdean Minister.
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