Johannesburg - The rural development and land reform department plans to hand over management of a new airport to the council of a small town in the Eastern Cape next year, it said on Sunday.
"Somerset East... is poised to make history, when a R413m [regional] airport which is being constructed by the department... is handed over to the town’s city council next year," said spokesperson Mtobeli Mxotwa.
Minister Gugile Nkwinti made the announcement at a memorial ceremony held at the Zuurberg heritage site on Friday.
"The airport will be a regional operation to boost tourism and commercial activity in the area. Construction is underway and we expect it to conclude sometime in 2014," said Mxotwa.
The project was expected to create viable job opportunities over the next eight years.
Nkwinti also announced that new roads would be upgraded and paved by the department’s youth co-operatives division.
"Other projects in and around the Somerset East area are expected to take at least eight years to come into operation, so there will be a lot more opportunities commercially in the region coming up."
Mxotwa said plans to develop the Addo Elephant Park and the Shamwari game Reserve were also underway.
Once it was completed, the airport would be the fifth operational airport in the province, he said.
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