Zambia’s National Airports Corporation (NAC) announced the introduction of a levy to be paid by passengers, which is meant for infrastructure development, specifically for airports. The levy will apply to all departing passengers beginning September 1, 2012.
According to figures made available to allafrica.com, domestic passengers will be paying K26,400 (US$5.31), while those embarking on international flights will have to pay K54,800 (US$11.03). All charges are payable before departure.
This development has been received with mixed feelings, as one would expect. Many, including the National Airport Corporation, say the levy is long overdue and the charge is minimal. Others say it is just another burden to add to the various taxes they already pay to the national treasury and to meet statutory obligations.
No doubt, however, development of Zambia’s infrastructure is key to the sustainable long-term development of any community and, consequently, the alleviation of poverty. Currently, poverty in Zambia is said to be widespread because of the failing infrastructure, not necessarily because of unequal distribution of resources.
Without an improved infrastructure, Zambia has not been able to earn much in terms of revenue from the tourism sector, because many tourists prefer to go to other countries where the infrastructure is better. As an example, of the 66,935 kilometers of roads, experts say that relatively few are paved or of good quality. The exception is those routes that link the capital of Lusaka to the main border posts.
It is also very unlikely that tourists would choose to take a train journey while in Zambia, as the railway line, Railway Systems of Zambia (RSZ), is not conducive to passenger travel. Standards have also been falling with the Tanzania Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA), the railway line that links Zambia to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.
Due to the inferior state of roads and rail networks, tourists would naturally opt to fly within Zambia, and this means the infrastructure of airports also needs to be improved. So if the passenger levy truly is meant for infrastructure development, then the minimal levy should be most welcomed. Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe Airport in Ndola badly needs a serious facelift, and Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International Airport is sorely in need of infrastructure improvement.