by Ben Taylor

Air Tanzania receives first-ever cargo plane
President Samia Suluhu Hassan on June 3rd attended the Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) to receive the country’s first-ever cargo plane. The Boeing 767-300F touched down at around 3 PM, where it received a water cannon salute. The arrival of the freighter is expected to enable investors and businesspeople who were previously forced to export their cargo using other airlines to use the one by Air Tanzania.

Speaking shortly after the plane touched down, President Samia said the plane’s arrival resulted from Tanzanians’ prayers and hard work, urging them to keep up with the spirit.

Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL) Managing Director, Ladislaus Matindi, said the newly acquired craft would significantly reduce costs for exporting cargo, mainly agricultural, fisheries and livestock products. The plane, which can carry up to 54 tonnes of freight, has a range of 11,070 km and a top speed of 850km/h, according to Mr Matindi.

He explained that ATCL’s evaluation of the company’s performance in the air cargo transportation market in the country had shown great hope and the demand for more cargo planes. ATCL is transporting seafood from Mozambique to China at an average of eight tonnes per trip, he added.

Minister for Works and Transport, Makame Mbarawa, told journalists that the cargo plane would relieve farmers and business people by cutting down costs for exports and imports of various products.

According to the data Mbarawa shared, Tanzania produces 24,971 tonnes of fish, meat, flowers, vegetables, and fruit products annually, supplied to India, France, Germany, Netherlands, Greece, Spain, Cyprus, Romania and Malta. He complained that only an average of 420 tonnes, equivalent to under 2% of the consignment, uses the country’s airports, noting that a big chunk of it was being flown through the neighbouring airports.

“Since we had no cargo aircraft, our transportation costs were higher than neighbouring countries,” Mr Mbarawa told reporters.

Saturday’s arrival of the cargo plane occurred against the backdrop of talks between ATCL and Kenya Airways (KQ) over a potential cargo transportation collaboration between the two companies. According to reports, the collaboration between KQ and ATCL is expected to focus on the demands of the global market for cargo transportation, including perishable commodities.

However, there was some controversy over the purchase of the aircraft when this was listed among the areas of concern highlighted by the Controller and Auditor General (CAG), Charles Kichere, in his report for the 2022/2023 financial year, where he reported an anomaly in the procurement.

According to CAG, the last instalment of the payment to the plane’s manufacturer was inflated, whereas instead of ATCL submitting an invoice of $37 million, it submitted an $86 million invoice.

The revelation caused an uproar among members of the public, prompting President Samia to dismiss Mr John Nzulule, the Director General of Tanzania Government Flight Agency (TGFA), to pave the way for an investigation into the matter. (The Chanzo)

Workers on Standard Guage Railway construction go on strike
Turkish workers employed by the Turkish construction company Yapi Merkezi on the Tanzania Standard Gauge Railway project went out on strike on August 5. They are demanding payment of their wages, which they say have not been paid for the past seven months.

When the strike entered its seventh day, the Yapi Merkezi workers stated, “We will continue our strike until our voices are heard and until we receive our wages. We do not do charity, we want what we deserve.”
Ömer Tanriverdi, one of the Yapi Merkezi striking workers, told Bianet, a Turkish press agency based in Beyoglu, Istanbul, that he has been
working on the project for 10 months and hasn’t received his salary since February.

“The company has put us in a difficult situation,” Tanriverdi recounted. “When financial difficulties increased, they deducted US$600 from friends who wanted to leave, claiming it was for the plane ticket. Lately, as more people quit their jobs, they raised this deduction to US$3,000, and now it’s up to US$4,000. People are practically held captive here.”

The Turkish workers’ union told reporters there were also problems with delayed salary payments for Tanzanian workers on the project.

In January this year, Yapi Merkezi, a Türkiye-based construction company, launched the construction of the fourth phase of the Dar-Mwanza SGR project, the Tabora-Isaka section, whose construction is supposed to be completed in mid-2026. (The Chanzo)

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