THE National Institute of Transport (NIT) has urged the Chinese government to speed up the initiative of upgrading the institute to university level because it will play crucial role in increasing the number of experts in transport projects.
At least $62m has been issued to Tanzania and NIT is among the beneficiaries of a Chinese government’s five mega transport universities’ initiative earmarked to be constructed in Africa to pursue more aggressive and dynamic partnership with the continent.
“The upgrading project is still at feasibility study level and is undertaken by Chinese’ Southwest Jiaotong University. We expected the actual work of the entire project to begin last year with civil works kicking off first,” said NIT Rector, Prof Zacharia Mganilwa, recently during Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to Tanzania.
He added: “We have decided that the university will have five colleges with one institute. Southwest Jiaotong University is conducting a feasibility study for upgrading and it has already taken soil samples for campus design.”
Apart from having five colleges, the university will have offices, laboratories, workshops, libraries and student hostels.
“We expect to receive high technological teaching machines after NIT upgrading. Although we are now having good instruction tools, we expect better ones from China support,” he said.
Prof Mganilwa pointed out that the upgrading of NIT was crucial to Tanzanians because the country needed more transport experts to feed megaprojects that had been initiated by the fifth phase government.
“Apart from Tanzania being expected to benefit from the presence of the upcoming transport university, countries like Kenya, Uganda, the DRC, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Malawi and Zambia will also benefit as they will bring their students to pursue transport courses,” he said.
He insisted: “East and Central Africa do not have a transport university and so we are luck to have this support from the Chinese government.”
He said as the country prepared for industrialisation, there was a need for such investment to go hand in hand with the improvement of the transport sector and experts in the field to control the sector as well.
“Many investors from China are eager to come and invest in this country, especially in the transport sector such as aviation, railways and many other modes of transport. Therefore, we need a transport university,” he added.
Prof Mganilwa noted that NIT had already started implementing some projects in fulfilling TCU’s requirements as it moved to become a centre of excellence in Africa.
He said some of the ongoing projects included the establishment of the centre of excellence in aviation and transport operations and the establishment of regional centre of excellence in road safety.
Others are expansion of Lindi Campus for Maritime Studies and Petroleum Technology, KIA Campus for Aviation training while 800 acres in Dodoma City are earmarked for another transport training facility.
“NIT as a higher learning institution is taking deliberate measures to ensure availability and sustainability of experts in the transport and logistics sector,” he added, while noting that experts to be trained would be engineers, pilots, aircraft maintenance engineers and maritime engineers, aerospace engineers, offshore engineers, mechanical engineers, automobile engineers, safety engineers, locomotive and rolling stock engineers, railway signalling and telecommunications engineers.
However, the government received a $75m loan to establish four centres of excellence for various sectors in the country where experts in different fields would be trained as the nation moved towards a middle-income semi industrialised economy.
One of the four centres of excellence to be established at NIT at $21.25m.
NIT’s centre of excellence in aviation and transport operations will include the construction of various infrastructures in Dar es Salaam (JNIA) and Kilimanjaro (KIA), the purchasing of training equipment for pilots, aircraft engineers and cabin crew training.
China’s decision to construct five mega transport universities in Africa was revealed at the Johannesburg Summit and the 6th Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (Focac) held in Johannesburg from December 3-5, 2015.
Heads of State and Government, Heads of Delegation, the Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission and Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Ministers in charge of economic cooperation from China and 50 African countries attended the Summit and Ministerial Conference, respectively.