|President John Magufuli lays the foundation stone for the project of the installation of four surveillance radar systems at Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam yesterday.|
The president explained that Tanzania was paying neighbouring Kenya that much in surveillance charges on its uncovered airspace. Currently, Tanzania has only one radar that covers a mere quarter (25 per cent) of its airspace, which rendered Kenya opportunity to monitor the remaining uncovered aerospace upon being delegated by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) – also giving our neighbours virtual monopoly over surveillance charges.
“… so we’ve been losing 1.2bn/- paying surveillance fees every year because large parts of our airspace was monitored by neighbouring Kenya … just because we’ve only one radar station … (an old one) installed in 2002,” he said.
At an event which opened the new chapter of airspace surveillance for Tanzania, the Head of State also said the new radar stations would further strengthen the country’s security and attract more investors within its aviation sector.
He challenged the Minister for Works, Transport and Communications, Prof Makame Mbarawa and the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) to closely monitor the contractors, Messrs Thales Group, to speed up work on the project, possibly finish it before its May 2019 deadline.
The Thales Group are a French multinational company that designs and builds electrical systems and provides services for aerospace, defence, transportation and security markets.
The four radars would be installed at the Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA), Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA), Mwanza, and Songwe (Mbeya) airports. Dr Magufuli told the minister that the radar installations should be done simultaneously at all airports, dismissing any possibility of financial setbacks.
“ … the Fifth Phase Government doesn’t have any financial problems … so I don’t expect excuses for delayed implementation of the project at any of the airports … or even delays at others on the financial excuses,” he added.
On his part, Prof Mbarawa explained that yesterday’s ceremony was made possible following signing in August last year of the 67.3bn/- project to install the system between the government and the French company.
The project has been funded entirely from government sources, and a 20 per cent advance payment had since been made. Meanwhile, Prof Mbarawa hinted ICAO had since rated the TCAA with ‘top marks’ following its inspection last year.
He disclosed that the ICAO gave TCAA 64.35 per cent marks following an assessment of its aviation services, up from a miserable 37.8 marks the previous year (2016), assuring that the government would continue improving the sector.
TCAA’s director-general Hamza Johari said 40 local engineers would be running the radar systems. He noted that upon installation of the radar systems, the TCAA would monitor up to eight planes at the same time, unlike the current capacity of monitoring just two aircraft.