(Posted 21st January 2017)
Tanzania’s Minister for Transport, one Prof. Makame Mbarawa, recently in the news after lashing out at Tanzania’s foremost airport handling company Swissport in a series of unsubstantiated allegations, was in the bad news again earlier in the week, when he had to concede that the opening of the new airport passenger terminal would face even longer delays.
Under his political oversight has the projected opening once again been pushed further down the line, the second time since he assumed office as transport minister, the new opening date now said to be at the end of the year.
The reasons given to the traveling public and aviation stakeholders in mitigation of this sorry situation can broadly be described as a lack of funds with contractors reportedly owed over 23 billion Tanzania Shillings.
The new terminal building, according to reports only now reaching about two third completion, was initially due to open in August last year before the deadline was pushed to June 2017 only to be missed again – according to an insider entirely due to the lack of timely availability of money.
The addition of Value Added Tax of 18 percent, which the contractors were exempted from when signing the project documents, has further complicated the matter as government was forced to absorb the tax burden after contractors had allegedly indicated they may walk off the job if the original agreement would not be respected.
The Transport Minister also denied that government would need to borrow more funds, over and above the nearly 250 billion Tanzania Shillings already on external loan accounts for the project, claiming the bills would be paid for with internal funds.
The delay comes hot on the heels of the Tanzanian government making major investments in the revival of Air Tanzania with the purchase of three Bombardier turboprop Q400NG’s, two Bombardier single aisle CS300 jets and a commitment to Boeing to purchase a Boeing B787, together worth over half a billion US Dollars.
This development once again puts the spotlight on the minister in regard of performance and competence, and given his recent tongue lashing of Swissport, his ability to keep calm, collected and rational.