EFFORTS to improve the country’s air transport network have received a huge boost following the launch of 136bn/- strategic projects to repair and expand four upcountry airports.
The launching ceremony of the projects to be executed in the regions of Kigoma, Tabora, Shinyanga and Rukwa was held in Dar es Salaam on Thursday.
Speaking at the launching ceremony, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Planning, Dotto James, said the European Investment Bank (EIB) will be bankrolling the projects set to run for up to 18 months.
The PS said that the projects are part of the government’s measures to ensure that the country has better transport services for stimulating economic growth.
Mr James said upon completion, the refurbished airports will be able to accommodate big planes including airbus and bombardier, which would eventually boost trade between Tanzania and other countries as well as provide opportunity for other emerging businesses.
“The projects will involve construction of modern passenger lounges, airplane parking lots, control tower, run-ways and airstrips, and we will also construct fences for safety and tarmac roads to the airports,” he said.
He said that the government has spent 4.4bn/-to compensate residents, who were evacuated from their lands to pave the way for the implementation of the projects.
Earlier, the Chief Executive Officer of the Tanzania National Roads Agency (TANROADS) Eng Patrick Mfugale noted that the completion of the projects will connect the four regions with other regions in the country, making it easier for both economic and social activities to flourish.
“The airports will help boost the economy of those regions and the country in large as it will facilitate and ease the transportation of crops and other products to and from neighbouring countries,” he said.
He revealed that the construction of Tabora Airport, under the Beijing Construction Engineering Group, will involve a control tower, a 1.7km road entering the area, a new passenger lounge to accommodate 250,000 people per year as well as a safety fence among others.
In Shinyanga, the contractor will spend 18 months to construct a 2.2km road to the airport, electrical system, planes parking lot, run-ways and a modern passenger lounge to accommodate 115,000 passengers per year.
“In Sumbawanga, the contractor, Sino-Shine Overseas Construction & Investment East Africa will construct a1.8kilometres run-way strip, passenger building to accommodate 100,000 passengers, planes parking lot, car parking, security fence, control tower and electric system. This will take 18 months to its completion,” he explained.
Eng Mfugale said the Kigoma Airport which its contractor will be obtained in the next few days, will involve renovations and construction of a new passenger lounge to accommodate 400,000 passengers per year, control tower, renovation of airstrips and construction of a waste management system.
For his part, Acting Director General of the Tanzania Airports Authority (TAA) Hamis Amiri said the implementation of the four strategic projects will also create employment to the locals and create more economic opportunities to the communities in those regions.
“We will supervise to ensure that the projects are implemented and completed on schedule timeframe so as to bring the intended outcomes. We will also monitor to ensure that the projects meet the required standards so as to last long,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary used the same platform to issue clarification that the 50 million US dollars the government received recently from the African Development Bank ((AfDB) will be used to support the country’s budget.
He said the funds for the budget support are always poured into the consolidated fund and can be spent on any development project.
He said the AfDB issued that unconditional loan in recognizing the fact that the Covid-19 has affected Tanzania’s economic activities and revenues collections.