Tanzania pilots have raised concern over employment opportunities being availed to foreigners, calling on Transport minister Dr. Harrison Mwakyembe to intervene.
They said claims that they don’t meet the employment criteria were unfounded.
So far there are 23 unemployed Tanzanian pilots who are members of the Professional Association of Tanzanian Pilots (PATP).
Speaking in an exclusive interview yesterday, PATP secretary general Khalil Iqbal told The Guardian that there are elements of corruption in the aviation industry, especially when it comes to employment.
He also blamed the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) for failure to implement some of the regulations passed by the authority under the Ministry of Transport.
“We don’t understand why most of the decisions, even on matters pertaining to our country, particularly employment terms, are made by foreign investors instead of the Authority,” he noted.
He said the association has 23 pilots who have been unemployed for over three years now over claims that they don’t have the requisite qualifications. He also blamed the Ministry of Labour and Employment and the Immigration department for granting employment permits to foreigners.
One of the local unemployed pilots, Captain Mohammed Rashid, said it is disappointing being unemployed for years, considering that their parents spent millions of shillings to cover their educational costs.
Elaborating, Rashid said it is very costly to undergo pilot studies because tuition fees are very high.
He said the cost of training a single pilot is between USD 40,000 and 70,000, depending on the country in which the training is undertaken.
“It cost me around USD 40,000 to complete my studies in South Africa,” he said.
He said Tanzanian pilots, despite missing some minor qualifications, can be employed and undergo on-the-job training. He said they are ready to pay for the training cost, insisting that it can even be deducted from their monthly salaries.
The pilot said although the Ministry of Labour and Employment has been advertising jobs for locals, it has ended up issuing permits to foreigners.
However, TCAA director general Fadhili Manongi refuted the claims, saying the Authority is not responsible for recruitment. He said TCAA is responsible for issuing pilot licences only.
Manongi said recruitments are normally done by aviation companies, most of which are foreign. He said TCAA provides foreign companies with work permits, adding that it is upon the aviation companies to decide on who to employ.
According to him, one of the problems contributing to Tanzanian pilots failing to get jobs is that they don’t have enough flying hours. He said most pilots in the country have 250 flying hours instead of the 300 required by most employers.
He said they are now making efforts to enable Tanzanian pilots increase their flying hours to 300 so they can be recruited by foreign aviation companies.
Last week TCAA said Tanzania has a 60 per cent shortage of pilots and aeronautical engineers following the government’s decision to pull out from funding aviation studies.