The Tanzania Times
Eastern Africa News Network

Mtemere aerodrome becomes the world’s first terminal in a national park to have own air traffic control tower

Tanzania’s Mtemere airstrip is poised to become the biggest and most advanced aerodrome in the world which located within a remote National Park, featuring its own air traffic controller tower.

The creation of the new airstrip inside the Nyerere National Park, will see the conservancy feature a larger than life terminal featuring a much longer landing strip stretching 1.8 kilometers in length.

This longer runaway will be in a position to handle the high frequency take offs and landing of planes taking tourists in and out of the wildlife-rich destination.

Aerial view of the ongoing construction works for the new Mtemere Airstrip featuring a runway of 1.8 kilometers, in the Nyerere National Park

Construction works for the relatively bigger terminal in the wilderness, takes place adjacent to the old airstrip located next to the Mtemere entry gate into Nyerere.

The air terminal will be completed in August 2024, becoming the largest aerodrome and technologically advanced modern terminal to be located inside any National Park in Africa.

The new airstrip is among the infrastructural development projects funded by the World Bank through the Resilient Natural Resource Management for Tourism and Growth (REGROW).

As reported before, REGROW is a USD 150 Million project which among other things, is out to boost the tourism sector in the Southern Highlands.

“It is going to be the only terminal in a national park to feature its own air traffic control tower because the Mtemere airstrip happens to be extremely busy as far as planes take off and landings are concerned,” explained the Tanzania National Parks’ Conservation Officer Daniel Mathayo.

Air traffic control is a service provided by ground-based air traffic controllers that direct aircrafts on the ground and through a given section of controlled airspace.

They also can provide advisory services to aircraft in non-controlled airspace.

The primary purpose of ATC worldwide is to prevent collisions, organize and expedite the flow of air traffic, and provide information and other support for pilots. Now this facility is being installed at Nyerere. 

Conservator Mathayo who is the REGROW project focal person at Nyerere National Park added that once completed the new airstrip will be able to handle bigger and more aircrafts throughout the year.

A plane the size of Bombadier Q300, for instance, will be able to land and take off from Nyerere with ease.

The terminal in the wilderness will also feature modern arrival and departure lounges for luxurious reception of visitors landing or departing from the destination.

Construction works are being undertaken by China Hennan International Cooperation Group Company Limited (CHICO), while Howard Consultants and SABA Engineering are the main project consultants.

The Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA)’s Assistant Commissioner of Conservation, Ephraim Mwangomo who commands the Nyerere National Park, reveals that the new airport is vital because the number of tourists at the destination is increasing rapidly.

“Most of the foreign visitors here arrive aboard airplanes for daily game drives during the day, and then fly back to other destinations, especially Zanzibar Islands in the evenings,” said ACC Mwangomo.

Despite being only four years old, Nyerere National Park attracts an average of 55,000 tourists in a year, generating around 11 billion/- in revenues per annum and counting.

“However many of the tourists visiting Nyerere at the moment are mostly day trippers who usually land in the morning from Zanzibar, undertake game drives in the Park before flying out again in the evening,” Assistant Conservation Commissioner, Mwangomo said.

Mapped within 30,893 square kilometers, Nyerere is essentially the biggest National Park in the Eastern African Region.

Other than the terminal at Mtemere Gate, there are two more airstrips on the reserve, including Msolwa and Matambwe.

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