Dodoma — RENOVATION and use of Moshi airstrip in Kilimanjaro Region is part of strategies by the government to promote tourism in the area and facilitate air-lifting of patients seeking medical treatment at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) or outside the country.
The Deputy Minister for Transport, Dr Charles Tizeba, informed the Parliament here that about 190m/- was set aside every year for repair work of the runway but the airfield, which was constructed in the early 1950s, required massive renovation.
He was responding to a question by Philemon Ndesamburo (Moshi Urban -Chadema) who demanded clarification from the government as to why the airstrip which could serve as a gateway for tourists visiting the region to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and visit other tour destinations was abandoned for ten years.
Mr Ndesamburo said there was no indication for deliberate measures by the government to reinforce services at the airstrip such that light aircrafts previously landing there ceased using it as the runway was in bad shape. "The government has not neglected the airfield in Moshi.
Currently, it operates under the supervision of the Tanzania Airport Authority (TAA) with six employees. The airstrip is among ten other airfields lined up for improvement using 3.2bn/-, received from the World Bank for feasibility studies before restoration of air services," Dr Tizeba clarified.
He admitted that gravel at the runway was loose and operators feared landing there. However, there has been a 37 per cent increase in number of passengers using Moshi airfield such that in 2009, a total of 575 passengers used the airport while in 2012 the number increased to 1,355. "Only light aircrafts with turbo engines still use the airfield at small-scale as other operators feared that loose gravel could go into the engine and cause damage," Tizeba concluded.