A government audit report has revealed massive overspending and poor forward planning at an airport project near former President John Magufuli’s hometown of Chato, in northern Tanzania.
This has raised further new questions about commercial viability of the airport and several other projects initiated by the late leader.
According to Controller and Auditor-General (CAG) Charles Kichere, Tsh52.32 billion (US$22.65 million) was spent on Spent the Geita (formerly Chato) International Airport project in the five fiscal years between 2015/2016 and 2020/2021, which is approximately triple its original budget of Tsh 17.79 billion (US$7.7 million).
The airport, which reports Note is 90 percent complete and already fully operational, but still severely underused, was also built without a prior feasibility study to fulfill its long-term k commercial viability, Mr. Kichere said.
Located relatively close to the more established Mwanza Airport and with a runway capable of accommodating large aircraft such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, is one of several legacy projects the former president aggressively pushed ahead despite cautionary advice from experts.
One of the major setbacks to the project’s public esteem was that it was never approved by Parliament as required by law and the Expenditure related to its implementation remained a mystery even in August House.
said Mr. Kichere A paperwork review by the Tanzania Roads Agency (Tanroads) as project overseer revealed that at least Tsh 3.62 billion (1st $.56 million) were borrowed from other approved projects to support the airport project, subject to the Treasury Department later repaying the money would.
“However, during my July 2021 audit, I found that none of the funds borrowed were repaid to the indicated projects, meaning that these projects were unable to meet their original plan.” he said.
The projects that suffered included the expansion of the national ICT system infrastructure and the construction of the Tanroads headquarters, as well as the Arusha-Holili and Tarime-Mugumu roads. Initial payments to contractors for various other government projects have also had to be suspended.
“It was also noted that Tanroads and the Tanzania Airports Authority did not conduct a proper feasibility study beforehand to identify the logic behind the Geita airport project, a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis, resource requirements and commercial sustainability,” said Mr. Kichere.
“That’s my view This neglect only increased the risk that the government would invest in a project with no productive value, as well as the likelihood of uncontrollable cost increases and unplanned time extensions for project implementation,” he added.
Concerns overcome The project is mainly based on its Remote location, far off the beaten track for air travelers in Tanzania. National carrier Air Tanzania currently flies to the airport twice a week and has continued to confirm the profitability of the route, but specific figures remain difficult to obtain or independently verify.
Chato Airport has been one of the pet projects Magufuli launched an ambitious economic development program for Tanzania, which also included a transnational standard gauge railway, the 2,100 MW Julius Nyerere hydroelectric power station in southern Tanzania, and a costly revitalization program for the ailing national airline.
According to CAG Kichere’s report, the dam project to solve Tanzania’s energy problems, was only 48.02 percent complete at the time of the audit in July 2021 instead of the planned 94.47 percent.
The reasons given were the coronavirus pandemic and delays in planning work and frequent flooding of the Rufiji River, where the dam is located.
The reb Air Tanzania’s revitalization program has also been hit by similar sustainability issues as Chato airport project ect, the report said. By July 2021, it had reduced its operating losses to Tsh36 billion (US$15.58 million) from Tsh 60 billion (US$25.97 million) the previous year, but four years after the start of the program, it had debts of 306, 7 billion Tsh (132.77 million US dollars) retained.
According to a strategic and operational efficiency review of the airline conducted by the CAG office, the government spent 1.028 trillion Tsh (445 million US dollars) to increase their fleet size from 4 to 11 between 2017 and 2021 and further down. Late last year, a $258.7 million payment was also made for five more planes yet to arrive.
But Air Tanzania’s two Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners posted a loss of Tsh23.6 billion (US$10.21 million) in 2020. /21 due to a low load factor as their international flight program was hit by Covid-19 and other hurdles, the audit report said.
President Samia Suluhu made a new commitment in March to ensure the completion of all upcoming ones Key projects initiated by its predecessor, notably the Chato Airpo rt project.