Runways to economic growth

THE government’s bold move to improve infrastructures of different airports in the country will play a great role in strengthening tourism as well as opening various economic opportunities for the locals.

As of now, a total of 11 airport projects are in the pipeline for construction and renovation. The move aims at strengthening the aviation sector for the country’s economic prosperity.

As part of efforts to ensure the targets are well met, President Samia on Friday laid a foundation stone for expansion of Iringa airport, in Iringa, which is among the three projects that are currently under construction. Other two airports are Songea (in Ruvuma region) and Musoma (in Mara region).

Speaking during the event, President Samia said the project is part of the effort to open up Iringa region and promote tourism in the southern circuit.

“There are a lot of tourism attractions in Iringa region that are yet to be exploited. Investment of this kind will help to open up the region by bringing more tourists,” she said.

According to her, the project is constructed at a cost of 1.103 million US dollars, and 1.912bn/-, bringing the total cost to 4.483 bn/-.

“The project is funded jointly through the loan from World Bank (WB) and the government of Tanzania,” she said, asking for proper supervision for the projects to be completed on time.

The project that is set to be completed in the next 18 months is set to accommodate the 70-sitter passenger planes.

Apart from bringing tourists, goods will be easily transported from region and thus improve incomes among residents of Iringa and the nation at large.

President Samia noted further that the government will complement the expansion of Iringa airport by constructing the road that connects Iringa Municipality to Msembe area where the Ruaha National Park is located.

“The target is to completely open up the region by stimulating economic activities that will boost people’s earnings,” she said.

Earlier, the Chief Executive Officer of the Tanzania National Roads Agency (Tanroads) Eng Rogatus Mativila said the project involves construction of the 2.1 kilometre  runway  in length and 30 metre in width.

“We shall also construct feeder roads, parking lots, fire fight and rescue station, purchase fire fighter engine as well as other necessary infrastructures for the airport operations,” he said.

Tabling the national budget in the parliament for 2022/23 fiscal year, in June this year, Minister for Finance and Planning Dr Mwigulu Nchemba said the improvement of airports infrastructure in various parts of the country is ongoing.

He said, in the implementation of airport infrastructures, the government has signed a contract for the construction of Msalato International Airport for the first phase. He said the first phase involves the construction of a runway and a passenger terminal.

“In addition, the government has completed expansion of the runway and the aircraft control system at Dodoma Airport; as well as architecture and preparations for the construction of a passenger terminal at Mwanza Airport,” he said.

According to him, there are some airports that are under different stages of construction and rehabilitation stages. He mentioned the airports as Songea (96 per cent); Mtwara (89 per cent); Iringa (44.65 per cent); Songwe (95 per cent); and Musoma (10 per cent).

Similarly, the government will continue with the construction and expansion of Shinyanga, Kigoma, Tabora and Sumbawanga airports at a cost of 136.85bn/- (50 million Euros).

Moreover, the government has continued to strengthen Air Tanzania whereby in 2021/22 it received two Airbus A220 300 planes and one Dash 8 Q400 aircraft.

“The government has made initial payments for the purchase of five (5) new aircrafts of which two are Boeing 737-9, one De Havilland Dash 8-Q400, one  Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, and one Boeing 767-300F cargo aircraft,”  the minister informed  national assembly.

Meanwhile, speaking at a rally at Samora Stadium in Iringa Region, President Samia  asked Iringa residents to safeguard water resources in their community.

“Several water sources exist in the region, so it is critical that you safeguard them since they are very vital for our strategic projects and other regions rely on water from this region, such as Mtera Dam, a hydroelectric dam that contributes to the country’s electricity output,” Ms Samia added.

She went on to say that it was past time for the region’s authorities to involve traditional leaders and launch an awareness-raising campaign to discourage people from farming in the wetlands, also known as ‘vinyungu.’

Ms Samia went on to say that the Iringa Region is blessed with the Great Ruaha River, which runs east via the Usangu wetlands and the Ruaha National Park into the Rufiji River, where a Julius Nyerere hydropower project is situated (JNHPP), one among the country’s strategic project which is expected to have an installed capacity of 2,115 megawatts.

On forest reserve in the region, she said it was equally crucial for resident to conserve it as the nation rely on that for various uses such as timber and medicinal plants.

“Remember that planting trees is important so let’s keep that in mind, let’s not burn forest to avoid loss of valuable timber resources, degradation of catchment areas and loss of biodiversity,” she said.

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