Tanzanian Transport Minister Harrison Mwakyembe
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania – Transport authorities in Tanzania and a potential investor from Oman are negotiating a joint venture which, in the long run, could revive the East African country’s hope of owning an airline of choice in the region, it was learnt here Tuesday.
Tanzanian Transport Minister Harrison Mwakyembe said government technical, aviation and legal experts were studying project proposals submitted by Al-Hayat Development and Investment Company of Oman to improve safety and security facilities at Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam, and to train personnel for operating new aircraft of Air Tanzania Corporation Limited (ATCL).
“They have done a great job to prepare the proposals. Our experts have to peruse the documents step by step and come up with views or suggestions that will enable the project to take off after both sides reach agreement,” said Mwakyembe after his meeting with the Omani firm’s chief executive, Sheikh Salim bin Al-Harthy.
After a familiarization tour of the airport, Sheikh Salim announced that his company would provide US$100 million for rehabilitation of the airport and refurbishment of its security facilities.
“I have come to invest here in response to the appeal made by Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete when he visited Oman recently. We have to provide assistance to enable this country to grow by investing in such an important sector,” he said.
On the need to modernise security services, Sheikh Salim said: “We live today in a world with thugs at the controls. Airports must be protected and all luggage and cargo must be thoroughly checked to ensure no harmful objects are hidden therein.”
An agreement between the investor and the Tanzanian government would see the project take off in the coming eight months.
According to Sheikh Salim, rehabilitation of the airport services would include acquisition of fire engines, eight passenger aircraft — two Embraer 175 (from Brazil) and six Bombardier state-of-the-art planes from Canada — and construction of a 25-storey airline building to be known as Muscat Tower in downtown Dar es Salaam.
Meanwhile, Capt. Milton Lazaro, Managing Director of the ailing ATCL, has welcomed the investor, saying the partnership would be a great relief for the benefit of the airline and the Tanzanian economy.
The Transport Minister said the government had done a lot to attract and convince the investor after clearing a huge debt burden that brought the 35-year-old ATCL down.