Land dispute stalls airport expansion

Saturday May 3 2014

By ADAM IHUCHA Special Correspondent

A land dispute threatens Tanzania’s plans to expand the Kilimanjaro International Airport. The $47 million makeover plan covers refurbishment of all runways, taxiways and passenger lounges.

But the project, among other developments under the new airports integrated master plan, faces opposition from a group of residents who claim ownership of the land on which the project is to be undertaken.

“We are called squatters, but the airport found us in this area,” said KIA ward leader Sinyok Ole Nairuko. He said that about 10,000 residents in Tindigani, Mtakuja, Sanya Station and Majengo villages would be affected, should a planned eviction be carried out to pave the way for the airport’s renovation.

Data shows that nearly 9,000 acres of the total 23,000 acres designated for the airport’s expansion are occupied — threatening the safety of the airport.

Officials say that thousands of local residents, from both districts of Arumeru in Arusha and Kilimanjaro regions, have illegally settled at the airport estate.

Compensation

In 2002, the Kilimanjaro Development Company (Kadco) estimated that Tsh480 million ($300,000), was needed to compensate the squatters.

But the government said the amount was too high. Kadco’s new master plan aims to convert the 110 square kilometre area around KIA into a modern duty-free shopping city that would compete with Dubai.

The KIA area, strategically placed between Arusha and Moshi towns — hubs of the northern tourism circuit — is to become a “city” where investors are to establish shopping centres, tourist hotels, duty free shops, export processing zones, curio shops, golf courses and a large game ranch. 

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