Tanzania has begun the last phase of its aviation sector modernisation plan with the commissioning of four radar systems worth $29.6 million, which will give it complete control of its airspace.
It has been using Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport’s radar system.
The country’s largest airport, Julius Nyerere International Airport, is expected to have a new terminal by June next year. This would cut Dar’s reliance on Nairobi for transit flights by some airlines.
On Tuesday, President John Magufuli commissioned the construction of four radar systems in the country’s four airports in a move he said would save the government more than $528,000 in fees it pays Kenya for the service.
“We have been paying surveillance fees every year because large parts of our airspace were monitored by our neighbour Kenya, because we have only one old radar station installed in 2002,” President Magufuli said.
“The new radar stations will further strengthen the country’s security and attract more investors within the aviation sector.”
The existing radar monitoring system covers less than a quarter of Tanzania’s airspace, leaving the rest under the control of Kenya, as delegated by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
French contractor Thales Group is expected to install the systems at the Julius Nyerere, Kilimanjaro, Mwanza and Mbeya airports by May 2019.
“We have the funds to finance this, so there should be no issue regarding payments or delays,” President Magufuli said.
“We signed this contract in August last year with Thales and it will be funded wholly by Tanzania. So far, we have paid the contractor $5 million as advance payment,” Transport and Works minister Makame Mbarawe said.
“We will now be able to facilitate search-and-rescue operations in case of emergency or air accidents. It will also meet the ICAO standards and guidelines,” Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority director-general Hamza Johari said.
He added that the authority will now have a network of airports, with the capacity to handle modern aircraft as well as to provide 24-hour service.
Last year, a high frequency radio monitoring site was installed in Tanga to boost its capability to monitor Tanzanian airspace.
Its current radar, bought from United Kingdom-based firm, British Aerospace Engineering, was marred in controversy after it emerged that its cost of $40 million was 45 per cent higher than similar radar systems that the firm sold to Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey at a cost of nearly $22 million.
Tanzania has also said that June next year will be the final delivery timeline of the Julius Nyerere International Airport passenger terminal, a project that has been dogged by delays over corruption and unavailability of funds.
The $300 million project had been delayed over a funding stand-off after President Magufuli, in February last year, questioned its cost and implementation timeframes.
This saw the President Magufuli administration resort to tapping domestic revenue sources to complete construction of the second phase of the project at a cost of $128.4 million.