OVER 20 families that are squatting at Chipata airport premises will be displaced in order to pave way for the expansion of the runway.
Currently, planes cannot land at the airport as the runway was not long enough to accommodate such aircraft.
The Ministry of Transport and Communication permanent secretary Misheck Lungu who recently toured the airport premises said there would be need to relocate the squatters in order to expand the runway and make the airport attractive to aircraft operators.
Mr. Lungu observed that the airport had a short runway and could only accommodate small planes.
He noted that most operators used M’fuwe International Airport due to the size of Chipata airport runway, adding that Government intended to upgrade Chipata and make it economically viable.
“We want to bring to life Chipata airport because as at now the airport only accommodates small planes. It cannot accommodate big planes because it has a short runaway. But we intend to expand and probably relocate the squatters around the area,” Mr Lungu said.
He stated that Government would first secure the airport premises by fencing it before expanding the runway.
Mr. Lungu stressed that people wandered about on the Chipata airport runway, a situation which he said was unacceptable as a runway should not be open to anyone.
And Eastern Province permanent secretary Chanda Kasolo said the authorities have already started sensitising the squatters on the need to relocate.
Mr. Kasolo stated that squatters would soon be served with eviction notices, adding that those willing to be settled by Government would be relocated to a resettlement scheme.
“Squatters have been engaged in this development and so far they have been co-operative. They are being sensitised on the need to relocate. Soon they will be served with eviction notices,” Mr. Kasolo said.