Tuesday, August 6, 2013

■ TANZANIA: Zanzibari lawmakers irate at cost overruns, poor workmanship at new airport terminal.

The Zanzibari House of Representatives has taken the government there to task over continuous delays and cost overruns in the construction of an urgently needed new international terminal (Terminal II) at Zanzibar's Abeid Amani Karume International Airport.

The original BCEG Terminal design proposal (BCEG)
During a recent parliamentary session, the island's lawmakers are said to have been irate at the lack of progress made in opening the new terminal, exacerbated by reports of poor workmanship. Signed in 2010, the project planned to ease congestion at the popular tourist island by increasing its passenger throughput by 1.2million pax/annum with provision for a new 17'000sqm terminal building, a small power station, and an enlarged 100'000sqm apron to accommodate more aircraft.

Funding came from the China Export-Import Bank via a loan for USD77.81million (CNY481million) with the contract awarded to China's Beijing Construction Engineering Group (BCEG). The original designs were carried out by BCEG's Architectural Design and Research Institute.

However, according to The Daily News, during the later phases of construction, site inspections allegedly revealed signs of poor workmanship which prompted the local government to hire French architectural and engineering firm,  Aéroports de Paris Ingénierie (ADPi), to evaluate the quality of work. A damning subsequent report by ADPi is said to have "advised the Zanzibar government to either redesign the terminal at a cost of about USD140million" or demolish the whole project and start again.

Zanzibar is understood to have chosen the redesign option, set to cost USD115 million, against ADPi's recommendation that it go the more expensive route and start from scratch.

Last year, lawmakers tempers flared over similar concerns regarding the works but which were allayed by claims that the project had not stalled, but simply required "a redesign." Now, with the project in a quandary, government has now reportedly embarked on a witch hunt to find those responsible for allowing the project to progress so far, albeit without any system of proper checks or assessments in place to monitor the quality of work done.

The project's status, and government's next move, also has ramifications for Zanzibar's relationship with China.