Ray of light as Msalato Airport project takes shape

CONSTRUCTION of the Msalato International Airport in Dodoma is beginning to take shape with the first phase, which involves the construction of the runway attaining 15 per cent performance.

Msalato International Airport- one of the key strategic projects, currently being undertaken by the government will give Dodoma a completely new look.

Speaking in Dodoma on Wednesday immediately after visiting and inspecting the project, the Minister for Works and Transport, Professor Makame Mbarawa said that the airport construction project is progressing well.

“Today (Wednesday) we have come to visit the project and see how the work is progressing, we have seen that the progress is good and the work is going as we expected,” he said.

Prof Mbarawa said that the construction of Msalato International Airport involves two phases, whereby the first one is the construction of the runway stretching 3.6 kilometres and the second one building the terminal buildings — passenger building, the flight control tower, offices, the fire fight department building and other infrastructures.

Elaborating, he noted that the runway area construction costs stand at 164bn/-, while costs of the construction of terminal buildings stand at 194.4bn/-.

“The construction of the runway has so far reached 15 per cent but for the part of the terminal buildings as you can see, the contractor is still on the mobilisation stage,” said Prof Mbarawa.

“This is yet another massive project being undertaken by the government in the country’s capital city, which is envisioning acquiring a complete new look,” he said.

During the first phase of the project, the government will spend about 272 million US dollars (over 600bn/-), after obtaining a concessional loan from Africa Development Bank (AfDB).

In December 2019, the Board of Directors of the AfDB approved 272 million US dollars loan to Tanzania for the construction of the new international airport at Msalato area- about 12 kilometres from the Central Business District of the capital city.

The funding package, comprises a 198.6 million US dollars loan from the bank, 23.52 million US dollars from the African Development Fund (ADF) and 50 million US dollars in co-financing with the Africa Growing Together Fund (AGTF) — a co-financing facility of the People’s Republic of China managed by the bank.

The project involves the construction of high-capacity airport infrastructure to meet the expected growth in air transport from the city’s new role as the administrative capital of Tanzania.

Work will be carried out over four years and will include a passenger terminal, a runway, and air navigation equipment.

The project includes other related operational services such as a fuel distribution company, water supply systems, electrical power distribution substations and a fire-fighting service, among others.

And on Wednesday, the AfDB Executive Director, Jonathan Nzayikorera extended the bank’s gratitude to President Samia Suluhu Hassan, for her strong leadership and vision on the implementation of Msalato Airport project.

He also said that as an ADB Executive Director, he will continue to be on Tanzania’s side and ensure that ADB continues to fund the Msalato airport construction project until its completion.

“I’m going to testify what I have seen; the progress is very good and I’m pleased with the speed of the construction, however, I would like to ask the contractors to work hard to ensure they meet the project deadline because AfDB is monitoring the project closely,” he said.

On his part, the Executive Director of the Tanzania Road Agency (TANROADS), Engineer Rogatus Mativila said that the construction of the runway has reached 15 per cent, adding that he is pleased with the pace of the work.

He explained that President Samia has directed that this construction must be completed early to allow the opening up of various economic activities that will develop and propel the country’s economic growth.

He noted that earlier, the project was to be completed in April 2025 but after the President’s directives the project is expected to be completed in November or December 2024.

“The project was supposed to be completed in April 2025, but President Dr Samia, when laying the foundation stone to mark the opening of this construction, tasked the contractors to work hard and ensure that the project is completed as soon as possible,” he said.

“This is a big, modern and international airport, when it is completed, it will bring a big economic revolution in Dodoma and in the country as whole, because it will accommodate big planes,” added Eng Mativila.

The laying of the foundation stone was done in October last year by President Samia in the company of AfDB Country Manager, Patricia Laverly and Minister Mbarawa, among others.

Speaking at a colourful ceremony, the Head of State said that after completion of the first phase of the project-the Msalato International Airport would have the capacity to accommodate major aircrafts (Boeing 747) with the capacity to carry about 350 passengers.

President Samia said that the Msalato airport project would increase employment opportunities both direct and indirect, directing the contractor executing the project to ensure that all works that can be done by locals be directed to Tanzanians living in the country’s capital.

The project is being undertaken by Sinohydro & Beijing Construction Engineering, a Chinese firm undertaking several projects across Africa.

Expected annual capacity for the new Msalato International Airport is approximately 50,000 aircraft and one million passengers, most of which are predicted to be international.

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