(eTN) – Once Zanzibari President Ali Shein has put his signature on two bills passed by the Zanzibar House of Representatives, a new Zanzibar Airport Authority will become reality. This new authority is supposed to take charge of the main airport on Unguja island – commonly but incorrectly referred to as “Zanzibar” – the second major airport on Pemba island and other airfields, current or future.
However, claims that the two airports have been operating “illegally” since the 1964 independence, raised more than just a little bemusement, as the United Republic of Tanzania’s laws and aviation regulations have sufficiently covered air operations and the management of the two airports. Also dismissed were claims that the laws and aviation regulations in place across the United Republic of Tanzania did not govern the operation of the two airports in Zanzibar, as the respective laws and aviation regulations were applicable in every corner of Tanzania, including the islands of Zanzibar.
Said one regular commentator, by his own admission a staunch “unionist:” “There are separatist forces at work in Zanzibar, and the only thing they can show is duplication of regulatory bodies. They should have concentrated on developing the islands instead of wasting time on creating authorities, which already exist for the United Republic of Tanzania. Our country is recognized by ICAO of which we are a member and the only member representing the interests of the islands, too. Our laws and regulations conform with ICAO resolutions; CASSOA was formed by the East African Community to act on behalf of each and every member state, and Zanzibar is part of Tanzania, not [its] own member state. Instead of such gimmicks, we should build our nation and address the many problems we have in the economy; we should unite and not divide.”
Adds this correspondent in closing, the relationship between the two partners in the United Republic of Tanzania, the mainland previously called Tanganyika, and the islands of Zanzibar, is complex at best and often marked by bickering and talks of separation, though always brought back on the straight and narrow by the mutual recognition that the United Republic of Tanzania stands stronger together than apart.