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Saturday, 26 March 2011

FANTASY ON THE FANTASY AIRPORT

The following news report about Sikhuphe International Airport was written in 2009, but for some unfathomable reason has not been published until now.


Enjoy.


‘New airport not a white elephant’- man


According to some man paid to say so, the new Sikuphe International Airport is not a complete white elephant after all, because he says so. Critics of the project will be mightily relieved by this cast iron assertion, and are sure to welcome the unsubstantiated and tautological assurance of the man, who is by no means a completely unqualified representative of an illegal puppet Government and a director in various companies involved in the airport construction.


Pressed for detail the man said: ‘The new airport has been a priority since the second we were ordered to build it or be replaced by other yes-men. Hence we relished the opportunity to be world leaders in a new type of business model. We have dubbed it a ‘Public Finance for Private Gain Enterprise Project.’ Well, actually a local consultancy, in which I am coincidentally a Director, came up with the name for a small fee of $1.7m. But it is a ground-breaking approach to investing public money in a hugely risky manner that has an at least 0.32% chance of benefiting an often neglected section of the public- the ones that live in palaces and huge mansions.’


When asked about the cost benefit analysis, environmental impact assessment, and community severance implications of the project, the man was equally incisive. ‘We simply do not have time for these matters as construction deadlines are already tight. But I can assure you we will consider them fairly and objectively once the airport is completed. Can you fax me a questionnaire?’


He was however quick to point out the benefits of the new project. ‘For a start the airport will bring water and roads to a remote area. The argument that installing water pipes and building roads would bring the same result for a fraction of the cost is clearly flawed, because such would be wasteful as it would not generate revenue for those who need the cash. To put it another way, people often overlook the fact BMW bring out a new 7 series model every year!'


The man urged the whole nation to have confidence that security would be a major consideration at the new airport. ‘We are conscious of the threat of terrorism. Therefore the airport will be guarded day and night by guards who will not be permitted to sleep on duty for more than half their shifts. This measure will improve security by 50% overnight. That said, a steady stream of random dudes, employees’ distant relatives, people looking for their goats, hangers-on and a sizeable selection of local characters will be allowed to roam around the airport at liberty. To legislate against this tradition would be to give in to the terrorists.’


Concerns about the lack of qualified air traffic controllers were also assuaged by the man. ‘Unless I am mistaken air traffic controllers are only required where there are aircraft. Let me be clear on this matter. We have never once suggested that any air company has shown the remotest interest in using our airport. Why would they? It is located in the arse end of nowhere after all. If, after some years, an aviation company actually expresses interest, we will certainly address the matter of air traffic control. But any pilot worth his salt should be able to land at Sikuphe unassisted. It is only a matter of spotting Musa’s house beside the main road which has breeze block of a slightly lighter grey than the others, then turning left. Or right, depending on the wind direction and where you are coming from. ’


The man further stressed the importance of meeting the 2010 deadline when the World Cup will be hosted in South Africa. ‘It is essential that the project is completed by June 2010 in time for the soccer World Cup. The airport will have several large screen televisions and it is paramount that the staff, guards and others can watch the games. This is just one of the many community benefits that critics overlook.’


The man confirmed that Taiwan and Dubai were part-funding the project, but that neither country had any hidden agenda, be it UN votes or lucrative business deals with lofty individuals that can trample roughshod over small inconveniences, such as the law of the land and the constitution.


Meanwhile this paper contacted the International Civil Aviation Organisation to ask whether the new airport would be granted an operating license. A spokesman from ICAO explained “No.”


--- Contributed


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