PRESIDENT Samia Suluhu Hassan will tomorrow officiate a historic and colourful ceremony for receiving Tanzania’s first-ever cargo plane.
Ahead of the grand national event, Works and Transport Minister Prof Makame Mbarawa expressed hopes that the new plane, Boeing 767-300F, is going to significantly reduce costs for exporting cargo, mainly agricultural, fisheries and livestock products.
The fuel-efficient plane with a capacity of carrying 54 tonnes will receive the traditional water salute on Saturday.
“We are in preparations to receive the plane. Businesspeople will be allowed to hire the plane to import or export cargo,” stated Prof Mbarawa when briefing journalists in Dar es Salaam, yesterday.
He added: “This will be a great opportunity for Tanzanians to export their products abroad for economic gains.”
The minister further explained that currently, Tanzania export cargo weighing about 24,000 tonnes annually, mainly agriculture, fisheries and livestock produce and almost 90 per cent of them are airlifted through airports.
He said currently, the country is able to airlift only 420 tonnes through its flights, pointing out that the arrival of the cargo plane will turn things around, with the country expecting to export more cargo by using its own plane.
He further said the coming of the cargo plane was part of efforts by the six-phase government under President Samia Suluhu Hassan to transform air transport sector by enabling reforms in the state-owned company (ATCL).
So far, ATCL possesses a total of 11 planes serving domestic, regional and international routes.
Under President Samia, the government in July 2021 decided to purchase four more planes for ATCL, which included two Boeing 737 Max – 9, one Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner and one Boeing 767 Freighter, which arrives tomorrow.
Unveiling the schedule for arrival of the remaining three planes, Prof Mbarawa noted that the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner will arrive in February next year, while the two Boeing 737 Max – 9 planes are expected in August next year.
ATCL’s Public Relations Manager, Sarah Rueben informed journalists that the new plane will start operations from July this year after completion of registration processes.
Prof Mbarawa’s statement came barely a day after the speech by the Chief Government Spokesperson, Mr Gerson Msigwa, who dismissed circulated rumours by the myflight.com website that the new cargo plane has been spotted at the Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA).
Mr Msigwa said the website had published an article claiming that the new plane is involved in illegal transportation of goods, and that the aircraft has been spotted at the JNIA with cargo that was not inspected by Customs officers.
“Our plane has not arrived, we are expecting it on June 3rd this year (tomorrow), and Minister for Works and Transport Prof Makame Mbarawa will inform the public on the schedule of receiving the brand new aircraft,” he said.
He added, “It is the first time that Tanzania is going to write history in receiving a huge cargo aircraft that has never been in possession of the country, this is a huge revolution and transformation that is going to be made in the transport sector”.
According to Mr Msigwa, the plane that is capable of carrying 54 tonnes of cargo is still in the United States (US) and the manufacturer has not yet handed it over to the buyer who is the government of Tanzania.
“We ask Tanzanians to disregard the rumours that have been circulating,” said Mr Msigwa, noting that the website that published the fake news has an intention of tarnishing the positive image of ATCL and Tanzania’s aviation sector at large.
Mr Msigwa noted that the Ministry of Works and Transport through ATCL is closely monitoring the website that has been implicated for possible legal procedures that have to be taken