Torrential rains take toll on Tanzania’s strategic airstrip

Saadani National Park is, however, still accessible by chopper and roads

TUESDAY November 14, 2023

Tanzania National Parks Acting Conservation Commissioner Juma Kuji appeals to stakeholders to bear with the agency during the emergency maintenance of the Saadani National Park. PHOTO | FILE

By The Tranquility News Reporter, Tanzania

Tourists interested in flying to Saadani National Park to sample attractions in eastern Tanzania have to wait for nine days or opt for other means of transport to reach the site.

Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) has temporary closed the airstrip in the national park, thanks to the downpour rocking many pockets of the East African country.

The closure of the strategic airstrip in the Tanzania’s sole national park with both terrestrial and marine attractions aim at giving room to emergency maintenance.

The country’s conservation and tourism agency confirms receiving the Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) from the civil aviation authority saying the airstrip will remain closed between November 10 and 23, 2023, given the magnitude of the risk identified.

Tanzania National Parks Acting Conservation Commissioner Juma Kuji regrets the inconvenience, appealing to conservation and tourism players to bear with the agency.

Warthogs flee Tanzania’s Saadani National Park to a neighbouring village for fear of lions. PHOTO | FILE

“We couldn’t consult all stakeholders beforehand because the NOTAM follows operators’ hazard reports and our swift observation of excessive ongoing rains in the area,” says the TANAPA Chief, adding:

“We always communicate to our stakeholders in advance in case a scheduled airstrip maintenance will cause flight disruptions in order to minimise the inconvenience.

“The situation at hand calls for immediate closure of the airstrip, pending approval of the TCAA that the risk has been contained.”

The Conservation Commissioner says closure of the airstrip though comes with a price, including flight disruptions associated with business and financial losses, continuing operating it risked safety as well as violation of civil aviation regulations.

He promises stakeholders of the airstrip that TANAPA will do all it takes to ensure the maintenance work is accomplished and approved in time.

A warthog grazes along with a goat at a household compound at Saadani Village in Coast Region, Tanzania. PHOTO | FILE

Ongoing disproportionate rains are said to have affected parts of the Saadani National Park’s airstrip runway, taxiways and the apron, threatening safety of aircraft operatorsΩ

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