MAKUMBA MWEMEZI, recently in Zanzibar
ALTHOUGH Zanzibar has only two operating airports, the Zanzibar Government is nonetheless gearing to establish a Zanzibar Airports Authority (ZAA) to cater for the Isle's aviation regulatory needs independent of the Union Government in
general, and the Tanzania Airports Authority in particular.
This has partly been caused by unmitigated bureaucracy which includes undue delays in obtaining money from the national Treasury for the Isles' daily operations, a matter which “normally involves prolonged procedures that delay operations.”
With its own Airports Authority in place, Zanzibar's aviation sub-sector would conceivably be autonomous – with powers and mandate to collect revenues and allocate same for its expenditures as and when necessary, and without having to look up to the Union Government for that!
Extant procedures require that revenue collections at the two Zanzibar airports be taken to the National Treasury in Dar es Salaam – and, in the event Zanzibar needs money for the operations of its airports, it has to formally approach the Treasury for same through the ministry responsible for aviation.
Speaking in a special interview with Business Times in Zanzibar recently, the newly-appointed acting director-general of the Zanzibar Airports Authority (ZAA), Captain Said Ndubogani, said the requisite processes are already under way to establish ZAA, and the Bills for that will be tabled under a Certificate of Urgency in the Isles' House of Representative during the ongoing session.
The proposed 'Aerodromes Act' will provide for the establishment of the Zanzibar Airports Authority, which will eventually provide for the establishment, composition and official commencement of the Authority (ZAA) Captain Ndubogani said that, apart from avoiding bureaucratic procedures at the National Treasury, the Authority is also aimed at vesting powers in the Zanzibar aviation sub-sector to negotiate in its own capacity with big banks whenever it needs money for renovation and investment projects.
Noting that “the Zanzibar aviation sub-sector is growing at a tremendous speed, and that plans are under way to initiate five more airports in the Isles due to increased demand,” Ndubogani said there is, therefore, an urgent need for Zanzibar to have its own Aviation Authority.
He took the opportunity to state that “the decision to have a Zanzibar Authority has nothing to do with the circulating political rumours on issues of the Union; rather, the changes are aimed at promoting growth of the aviation sub-sector and increase competition for better services.
Ndumbogani also poohpoohed claims that some aviation stakeholders have not been involved in the Authority-making processes.
“It is not that we did not involve stakeholders; these are key players in the aviation sub-sector, and they cannot be left out of the matter. The truth is the Authority hasn’t been formed yet; we cannot form it without the requisite legal mandate. Once the appropriate laws are passed, we will notify them accordingly” he said.
“ONCE FORMED, THE AUTHORITY WILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR OPERATIONS OF ZANZIBAR AIRPORTS IN ACCORDANCE WITH INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS, PROVIDING QUALITY SERVICES TO PASSENGERS, AND SUPERVISE OUR AVIATION POLICY – RESPONSIBILITIES WHICH ARE NOW UNDERTAKEN BY THE DEPARTMENT (IDARA YA ANGA ZANZIBAR), NDUBOGANI EXPLAINED
“When formed, the Zanzibar Airports Authority will not take over the responsibilities of the Tanzanian Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) as people think. TCAA will be there to regulate the two Authorities, that is the Tanzania Airports Authority(TAA) and ZAA whose functions are to operate, not to regulate” he stressed, adding that people should not confuse the two functions.
INTERVIEWED BY BUSINESS TIMES OVER THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF ZANZIBAR’S MOVE, THE DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF THE TANZANIA CIVIL AVIATION AUTHORITY, MANONGI FADHILI, STATED THAT ZANZIBAR HAS NOT BREACHED ANY EXISTING LAW AND, AS SUCH, HE SEES NO PROBLEM OVER SEEKING AUTONOMY OVER THEIR OWN AIRPORTS.
Fadhili further said that the matter of airports operations does not fall under Union Matters in the Constitution. Besides, there is no prequalification on forming an Airports Authority based on the number of airports being operated.
“THE ONLY CONSTITUTIONAL MATTER IN AVIATION IS THE REGULATORY AUTHORITY. BY FORMING THEIR OWN AIRPORTS AUTHORITY, ZANZIBAR DOES NOT CLAIM TO REGULATE; IT ONLY SEEKS AUTONOMY TO OPERATE ITS AIRPORTS. I THINK IT IS MORE A MATTER OF REVENUE COLLECTION AND EXPENDITURE. THE REGULATION MANDATE REMAIN WITH THE TCAA” EE EXPLAINED.
In line with the ongoing process of forming its own Airports Authority, Zanzibar has been making efforts to renovate and improve its airports infrastructure.
It has also changed the name of the 'Zanzibar International Airport' to the 'Abeid Amani Karume International Airport' (AAKIA).
Recent improvements include extending the AAKIA runway from 2.46km to 3.22km, and the Strength Pavement Classification Number (PCN) increased from 42 to 61PCN.
The runway is now the longest in East Africa, outdoing the Jomo Kenyatta runway in Nairobi which erstwhile was leading.
AAKIA is also constructing a new International Terminal (Terminal Two) under the Beijing Construction Engineering Group (BCEG, which will have three Aerobridges, extended taxiways, and a new 100,000 square metre-Apron replacing the current 21,000-sq.m. one!
Construction of the Zanzibar International Terminal, which started in January 2011, is estimated to cost around US$70.4 million, on loan from the China Government. It is and expected to be completed at the end of 2013.
Speaking to Business Times the current AAKIA manager, Badru Aman Juma, said upon completion, the terminal will have the capacity of servicing over 4,000 customers at a time – equivalent to 1.2 to 1.5 customers annually.