The small town of Somerset East in the Eastern Cape is about an hour and half’s drive from Port Elizabeth. There was a possibility to fly there but the R53 million airfield outside the town is an unused white elephant.
The idea behind the airfield was for it to be a gateway for tourism and for the transportation of domestic product to and from the Zuurberg Heritage Corridor.
But the idea has not taken off.
The airfield was launched in January 2016 with the runway of 1.2 km. But it is not functional. There is no one in the offices and we have seen no aircrafts.
But once locals realised the airfield is inoperative, they capitalised on it.
It is now provides grazing to cattle.
Danile Jena a resident says: “We are happy that this place is not used, because we use it, we use it for our animals to graze and also it saves them from being run over by cars.”
The airfield was built by the Cacadu Development Agency in collaboration with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform.
Sunshine Blouw the CEO of Cacadu Development Agency says: “There are plans because already we are engaging an air school who would want and have made a commitment to come back to Somerset East and further on put up a dormitory for their students.”
The Cacadu Development Agency says they are currently working with the municipality to fence the airfield again as there is a possibility of the air school returning to operate from the facilities.