- Recommends use of underutilised airports in Ganzhi, Selebi-Phikwe and F/town
- Sees a viable air route between Gaborone and Orapa/Letlhakane
The MP for Selibe-Phikwe West, Dithapelo Keorapetse, has called for commercialisation and liberalisation of the aviation industry in Botswana in order to achieve economic diversity and create jobs.
Debating the Civil Aviation Amendment Bill 2021 tabled by the Minister of Transport and Communications, Thulaganyo Segokgo, Keorapetse emphasised the need for improvement of the aviation industry. “The aviation industry is one area from which we can create jobs and diversify the economy,” he said, further advising Minister Segokgo to propose major changes to make the industry more viable. “There is need to formulate a policy that allows for small domestic carriers to enter the market,” said the MP. “CAAB needs to draft measures such as reduced landing, parking and navigation fees for small carriers.”
The outspoken opposition MP asserted that another way would be to incentivise carriers that want to use underutilised airports like the Selibe-Phikwe, Ghanzi and Francistown airports with reduced passenger taxes, navigation fees and landing fees. “CAAB should stop hindering new private carriers to operate on certain routes as a way to protect the Air Botswana monopoly,” he said.
In addition, CAAB should consider building airstrips in Orapa-Letlhakane so to operate a Gaborone-Letlhakane route, adding that being a mining enclave, Orapa-Letlhakane should be serviced with cargo carriers and has people with disposable incomes who can afford air travel. Regarding Air Botswana, Keorapetse slammed the national carrier for placing some of its employees on unpaid leave under a no work, no pay policy at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Applying himself to the bill, the MP noted that it emanates from an audit carried out by the International Civil Aviation Organisation in 2018 that encouraged government to act swiftly. He said Botswana may not be out of synch with international best practice because the bill confers powers on the transport minister over accident scenes with provision for parallel investigations as it is the case in other jurisdictions.