AIR Zimbabwe owes the National Handling Services (NHS) $12 million dating back to 2009 when the country adopted the multi-currency regime, handicapping efforts by the agency to recapitalise.
NHS requires $5 million for recapitalisation. It deals with the handling of passengers and cargo at all functional airports in the country and has a staff complement of 300.
NHS acting general manager Mr Godknows Marawanyika said this while giving oral evidence before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development on Monday. He said the NHS was failing to operate effectively because it could not replace obsolete equipment and machinery.
“Government is not fully funding us and we are currently negotiating with the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe Ltd (CBZ) and the National Merchant Bank of Zimbabwe Ltd (NMB) to secure loans to recapitalise the company,” said Mr Marawanyika.
“NHS needs about $5 million for the recapitalisation process to be complete. The first tranche of the money will be used for the expansion of equipment at the Victoria Falls Airport which needs about $2,2 million alone,” he said.
“We are certainly not happy with our equipment. The bulk of our equipment is old and we are in the process of trying to recapitalise by purchasing new equipment for us to be able to serve our customers efficiently.”
Mr Marawanyika said they were forced to borrow or hire machinery from sister companies like the Aircraft Ground Services (AGS) and the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) in the event of a breakdown.
“So far, we have acquired about $500 000 from the CBZ to purchase a new cargo scanner and a high loading machine. We are handling 15 airline companies and there is need for more equipment,” he said.
He said the company also suffered financial constraints after absorbing additional operational costs from retrenchment packages for its workers after the company separated from Air Zimbabwe Holdings Ltd in 2012.
“The issue of retrenchment has been concluded. It is something we have dealt with,” said Mr Marawanyika.
He said NHS was realising $12 million a year. The NHS gained autonomy from Air Zimbabwe in 2012 and an interim board and management committee were appointed. The interim board is chaired by Mrs Angeline Karonga, a director from the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development.