Tuesday, March 23, 2010


The cost of building the unnecessary Sikhuphe International Airport in Swaziland has soared to 1 billion US dollars (E7.4 billion at present exchange rates).

This figure slipped out this week in an article in the Weekend Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III.

Previously, the published figure for the cost was E1.5 billion.

Sikhuphe has been under criticism since the plan to build it was announced in 2004. There was no research undertaken into its need and the International Monetary Fund said it was a waste of money that Swaziland did not have.

Now, Derrick Dlamini, who has close links to the project, writing in the Weekend Observer, says, the 1 billion dollar cost is ‘reasonable’.

Dlamini also reveals that the idea for the airport came direct from King Mswati, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. It was ‘conceived and projected by His Majesty,’ he writes.

That explains a lot. In Swaziland no one dares argue with the king. Sikhuphe is a waste of time and money. There is no need for it (there are plenty of airports in South Africa within less than an hour’s flying time) but the king decided he wanted it, so have it he must. That’s a definition of ‘vanity project’ if ever I heard one.

No comments: