Sumbawanga — THE Sumbawanga Airport is set to receive a 55.9bn/- major facelift and become an international facility. The airport, once completed, sets to stimulate economic growth in the region while at the same time attract business opportunities in the neighbouring countries--Zambia and DRC.
Not only that but also, the airport will become a gateway to tourism attractions such as Kalambo Falls in Kalambo District. The Deputy Minister for Works, Transport and Communication, Engineer Atashasta Niditiye, yesterday visited and inspected the airport during his two day working tour in Rukwa region.
The engineer affirmed that the government through Tanzania Aviation Authority (TAA) has secured over 55.9bn/ being a soft loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB) for the major rehabilitation and expansion of the Airport .
To pave way for the construction, the deputy minister, said the government has set aside some 3.3bn/- to compensate about 97 residents. The residents are from two wards of Old Sumbawanga about 27 people and Izia 70 whose areas will be taken for the project.
He said that the compensation money has been verified by experts from the Ministry of Finance and Planning and all registered residents from the two wards will be compensated very soon in quest to start the project. Eng Niditiye was shocked to witnesse a crowd of people, auto - rickshaws, and motorbikes crisscrossing over the facility while kids were busy playing football.
He immediately directed TAA to ensure the airport boundaries are identified, demarcated and fenced as soon as possible . While the Acting Rukwa Regional Commissioner (RC), Dr Halfany Haule who is also the Sumbawanga District Commissioner (DC) said the airport will provide the area with an ample transportation facility that will open up the region's sky to international market.
A cross-section of Rukwa residents told the 'Daily News' in separate interviews that they welcome the expansion since it will increase opportunity for the economic growth at individual and regional level as well. Historically, the airport was built 1945 shortly after the World War II meant to serve small airplane for spraying farms with insecticide.
In 1985 it was rehabilitated and was officially opened by the former President Ally Hassan Mwinyi for domestic flights.