A special Air Zimbabwe charter flight from China with 30 tonnes of Covid-19 supplies worth US$3 million landed at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport yesterday, as the fight against the deadly virus intensifies.
Sakunda Holdings, in partnership with the local Chinese business community, mobilised the resources.
Chief operating officer for Sakunda, Mr Mberikwazvo Charles Chitambo, said:
“The total cost of the consignment of Covid-19 supplies is US$3 million, including the cost of the charter plane.”
According to the arrangement, Sakunda chartered the Air Zimbabwe plane to ferry the cargo of personal protective equipment (PPE), automatic spraying machines, ultrasound scan, ventilators and rapid testing kits.
Sakunda secured 23 tonnes, while the Chinese business community mobilised seven tonnes.
Part of the materials will be used to equip Arundel Clinic, whose requirements are fairly small, with the rest set to be donated to public hospitals.
A Chinese representative, Mr David Zhou Jin, said the consignment was part of the Chinese business people’s commitment to help Government in the fight against the pandemic.
“We have sourced ventilators, equipment for ICUs, PPEs for frontline health workers such as doctors and nurses,” he said.
“The Chinese people are committed to help Zimbabwe in the fight against Covid-19.”
Air Zimbabwe spokesperson Ms Firstme Vitori said the cargo charter flight UM456, landed safely at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport with the medical equipment.
“As you are aware, travel restrictions due to the coronavirus have grounded airline operations to a halt across the globe and Air Zimbabwe has not been spared,” she said.
“However, we could not just fold our hands. We realised that there was a demand for the movement of cargo either medical equipment related to the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic or just relief aid, hence the cargo charters.
“We are utilising our passenger aircraft the B767-200ER in compliance with IATA guidelines for carriage of cargo in a passenger aircraft.”
Ms Vitori said Air Zimbabwe had capacity to ferry export cargo, which is an opportunity for local businesses and farmers, including tobacco farmers, to grab.