Sunday, April 7, 2013

■ TANZANIA: TAA forks out $12'000 for land feasibility study for new Sumbawanga airport.

Tanzanian Airport AuthorityThe Tanzanian Airport Authority (TAA) has allocated more than USD12'000 (TZS20million) for the evaluation of an area at Kisumba Village for the construction of a "modern, spacious airport" to serve Sumbawanga Municipality in Rukwa District, south western Tanzania.

Tanzanian infrastructural map
Tanzanian infrastructural map
(World Bank)
With land already identified in Kisumba, 20km from Sumbawanga, funding for construction is to be sourced from a EUR50million European Investment Bank loan, meant for the rehabilitation of several of Tanzania's smaller aerodrome including Sumbawanga's. However, authorities claim that a closer inspection of Sumbawanga's current facilities have rendered it more economically viable to simply build a new airport.

According to the Daily News, Rukwa Region has only one airport (that in Sumbawanga town) which is among seven other airports in the country that underwent feasibility studies and detailed engineering designs financed by the World Bank in 2007-08. 

As such, the development falls under the TAA's Third Key Result Area which has slated the submission of plans and designs for new airports at Bagamoyo (Coast Region), Msalato (Dodoma), Omukajunguti (Bukoba), Kisumba (Sumbawanga), Isaka (Shinyanga), and Ngungungu (Manyara) to be completed by June 2017.

Sumbawanga's current aerodrome, according to Rukwa Rural Council, has a 1'600m long gravel strip capable of handling aircraft of size up to Fokker 50, but is underserved owing to a lack of critical aviation infrastructure amongst them, fire fighting facilities. Local airline, Auric Air (AUK) is currently the only operator into the town though Precision Air (PW) has expressed interest in beginning flights should the airport be upgraded.

Rukwa region is one of Tanzania's most remote and poorest and sees the development of the airport as critical to its long term interests. Road infrastructure is especially bad with the network becoming largely impassable in the rainy season.