EFFORTS are underway to address a shortfall in aircraft maintenance engineers with the National Institute of Transport (NIT) expecting to produce its first batch of such professionals in 2019.
The Deputy Minister for Works, Transport and Communications, Engineer Atashasta Nditiye, says the aviation industry now needs more experts to facilitate economic investments. Statistics indicate that by last year, the country had only 74 against the needed 236 aircraft engineers.
"We need more experts because the aviation sector is rapidly growing," Eng Nditiye noted as he commended the NIT for introducing the programme, the first to be offered locally. The School of Aviation currently has a total of 101 students for certificate, diploma and undergraduate levels.
He sketched the picture yesterday, during a familiarisation tour of the institute in the city during which he met governing council and staff members. Acting Head of department of aircraft engineering, Mr Abubakar Noor, said shortage of maintenance engineers was crippling investment in the aviation sector, particularly for light aircraft for domestic routes.
This is because having enough experts for aircraft maintenance would assure the investors of affordable costs for repairs, he noted. The Chairman of the NIT's Governing Council, Prof Bavo Nyichomba, called for increased national budget allocation for air transport sector training.
Air transport is the most preferred method of access to Tanzania for international visitors, making the sector important and heavily relied upon. The total number of air passengers in Tanzania increased by 62 per cent in five years from 2.1 million in 2010 to 3.5million in 2015.
There are 58 airports and more than 300 private airstrips in Tanzania owned by mining companies and tour operators. By last year, there were 21 airlines operating at the Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's largest and busiest airport.