The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development says it is committed to proper signage at all the country’s airports in line with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards.
This comes after activists and political and social commentators in Bulawayo and the Matabeleland Provinces criticised authorities for changing the signage at the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo (JMN) International airport without consulting stakeholders.
The Ndebele cultural shield (Nguni shield) was removed from the airport and replaced with the government’s Coat of Arms emblem.
In a statement, the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development revealed that the change of signage was done by the Airports Company of Zimbabwe (ACZ) as part of its mandate of ensuring proper signage at all airports to ICAO standards.
The ministry said the signage at JMN International Airport was done as a temporary measure following the upgrading of the airport and its commissioning in 2013.
It said consultations were done with the Nkomo Family Trust, Culture Practitioners within the region, CAAZ, Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development and Cabinet on the matter.
The ministry added that there had been concern by stakeholders about the poor quality and workmanship of the temporary signage since 2015. Reads part of the statement:
The split of CAAZ into a Regulator and Operator gave rise to the formation of a new company, the Airports Company of Zimbabwe (ACZ), which assumed the responsibility for the operations and management of all airports, J.M. Nkomo included.
ACZ has since then been seized with the matter of improved signage at all our airports and has gone on to erect new signage with the Government of Zimbabwe Court of Arms as a temporary measure.
The ministry said that it regrets the hasty removal of the signage without notifying all the stakeholders. Said the ministry:
The Ministry regrets the hasty removal of the signage at J. M. Nkomo International Airport without notifying all the stakeholders.
The Ministry takes pleasure in informing all stakeholders that we have already gone to tender for new signage that incorporates all stakeholder concerns.
Wider consultations are ongoing on the best signage which will factor in regional sentiments and desires.
The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development would like to assure the public, all stakeholders, the rest of the Government and all users of J.M. Nkomo International Airport that as we design the new signage their input and support are of paramount importance.