Paragon ready, capable to run Hosea Kutako airport
…. Invests over N$25 million in equipment

Obrein Simasiku

Paragon Aviation says it is ready and capable to carry out airport ground services and cargo handling at the Hosea Kutako International Airport (HKIA), adding that it possesses the much needed human resources and equipment required to successfully, efficiently and effectively run a smooth operation.

Paragon Aviation is a seasoned player in the aviation industry, having been in operation for the past 14 years, and providing similar services at Victoria Falls Airport and Lusaka International Airport in Zimbabwe and Zambia, respectively.

Paragon Aviation, an arm of Paragon Investment Holding, is in a struggle to take over airport ground services and cargo handling of the country’s biggest international airport, from the current international operator, Menzies Aviation, which is clinging onto the tender, despite having lost out as well as having been dealt a blow in the Windhoek High Court, which ruled in favour of Paragon Investment Holding and its joint venture partner Ethiopian Airlines.

Paragon won the tender of the Namibia Airports Company in December 2021, following a tendering process of which Menzies is contesting the loss, having been in charge of the airport since February 2014.

The ruling was delivered by Judge Orben Sibeya on 29 June in which it ordered Menzies Aviation to cease operations and vacate the HKIA as of 30 June; this is after the NAC filed an application with the High Court, requesting an order compelling Menzies Aviation to cease providing all services at HKIA. In a turn of events, on the day of eviction, Menzies Aviation approached the Supreme Court to appeal the High Court ruling. With the interdict in place, Menzies had to continue providing the ground services and until such a time the court pronounce itself.

Paragon Executive Director Desmond Amunyela, on Saturday told the media that the company is ready to start at any given time, citing that it has carried out all human resources training as well as acquiring the much needed equipment to enable it to carry out the tasks. Amunyela labelled those fighting against the decision to run the lucrative N$700 million worth job, as displaying “commercial tears, with a racial connotation.”

Over N$25 million have so far been invested into this project, to acquire, recondition and upgrade equipment, as well as a staff complement of 90 with the likelihood of employing more as the operation commences, Amunyela said, as he showcased the state of the art and newest machinery that Paragon acquired, as they wrapped up a staff training.

“There is no substantive evidence of our inability, it is just vague claims to deprive us because it’s a black owned entity and does not deserve such a lucrative project. We have, however, learned to block that noise, as such attitudes only pushed us to greater heights by doing more and prove our worth,” countered Amunyela.

This is contrary to claims advanced by Menzies, saying Paragon had no capacity to run the affairs at the airport, and that it is a risk to the aviation industry. Further claims were that the equipment to be used were old, while also cheap materials were used to assemble some of the equipment, hence arguing that it is a great risk.

Menzies further argued that, there were irregularities in the tendering process, a claim which was invalided by the tendering appeal board as well as the court which dismissed the matter with costs.

“There is no need for the status quo to remain, we are therefore ready to start any time, and we hope NAC succeeds sooner by having an order to compel Menzies to cease operation as the court matter rages on, so that we can effectively start as mandated. We have been disorderly interrupted for some time, despite having won fairly. We serious devoted to carrying out our tasks. The advantage is that, we are solely Namibian without any outside connection, meaning that all the millions are to be utilised to grow our economy locally instead of being shipped overseas,” he said, further reiterating that there is no evidence pointing to the company’s ineffectiveness.

“We have partnered with Ethiopian Airlines which has been in the industry for decades, and they are assisting us with all much needed technical expertise. Also we have equipment that are new at this airport and not older than five years. Therefore, my message is, there is always a beginning and an end to everything, thus it is time for Menzies to leave. Why is it so difficult now, yet when they took over things were done in an orderly manner, a smooth transition was observed, why can’t the similar energy accorded be reciprocated,” asked Amunyela, adding “entitlement should end’’.

In addition, he said, their staff are from a pool of over 500 well experienced personnel in the aviation industry. He says they will be providing consistent and continuous training to employees so that they keep abreast of the fast growing developments in aviation, thus appreciating its link to airlines such as Lufthansa which assist in benchmarking standards.

Pic1….. A loader which can load and offload cargo on airplanes.

Pic2. Airport ground vehicles that carries luggage.

Pic3.. Motorised air passenger stairs for all airplane sizes.

By Observer