Dar es Salaam. The Zanzibar Airports Authority (ZAA) announced on Wednesday that it is planning to launch full operations of the new terminal, Terminal Three, at the Abeid Amani Karume International Airport effective from December 1, 2022.
In a notice to airline operators and airport users released on September 14, 2022, ZAA announced that from December 1, 2022, all services from Terminal Three will be conducted under the auspices of DNATA for the provision of ground handling and Marhaba lounge services.
Emirate Leisure Retail, on the other hand, will take care of all food and beverage service, shops and duty-free shops while SEGAP will provide technical support to ZAA management and airport operations.
DNATA, part of the Emirates Group of companies, will provide the services through its local subsidiary DNATA Zanzibar Aviation Services Limited. Emirate Leisure Retail is also a subsidiary of Emirate Group while SEGAP is a pan-African airport operator, jointly owned by African Infrastructure Fund 3 and Egis Airport Operation.
“Therefore, all airport users and airlines intending to use Terminal Three facilities are recommended to start communicating with those entities for planning purposes,” the notice stated, quoting ZAA’s acting director general Seif A. Juma.
Wednesday’s notice from ZAA, however, comes at a time when the government’s decision to award the companies the tender to offer the services is shrouded in controversy with local contractors complaining about the manners with which they were awarded.
The companies plus opposition politicians are also wondering what implications the decision to award the tender to foreign companies will have on the sustainability of local airport service providers.
Two local ground handlers – Swissport Tanzania and Nas-Dar Airco –, for example, told The Citizen newspaper on July 12, 2022, that Zanzibar needed to reannounce the tender, citing an alleged violation of local laws and regulations in awarding the tender to DNATA.
“This is nothing short of monopolisation, which is anti-competition,” the paper quoted Swissport Tanzania chief executive Mrisho Yassin as saying. “We have laws that must be adhered to by all players in the industry.”
Allegations of “favouritism” gained even more eminence after the opposition party ACT-Wazalendo, part of the ruling Government of National Unity (GNU) in Zanzibar, joined the calls in questioning the manner with which the tenders were awarded.
In a long article published by The Chanzo on July 8, 2022, a member of the party’s central committee Mr Ismail Jussa asked about the fate of two companies offering airport services now – ZAT and Transworld – following the “exclusivity” that has been extended to DNATA.
He also claimed that there is a possibility of laws and regulations being violated in the process.
“The process of awarding the contract in this project in all its stages has all the hallmarks of twisting rules, regulations and procedures in a way that raises many questions of who exactly is giving that impetus and who is intended to benefit?” Mr Jussa wrote in the article.
But President Hussein Mwinyi has been defending his government’s decision to award the tender to DNATA, insisting that neither law nor regulations have been infringed in the process.
Speaking during a press briefing at Zanzibar State House on June 30, 2022, Dr Mwinyi said that the decision to pick the company was carefully thought out given the fact that Zanzibar’s economy depends on tourism.
“We’ve spent a lot of money constructing Terminal Three, almost $120 million,” Mwinyi was quoted as saying. “So, if the services remain the same what will we have done by keeping the services the same after spending such an amount?”
In its notice on Wednesday, ZAA echoed these sentiments, saying that the government has taken major steps in the development and modernization of the airport facilities to cater for the growth of the tourism sector and the spillovers.
“[ZAA] did an assessment and realized the necessity to engage a management firm of global repute, expertise, and worldwide experience backed with enough resources and capacity to transform our airport,” ZAA’s Juma said in the notice.