THE National Institute of Transport (NIT) has recently been in the news for its envisaged plans to add value to its operations by becoming one of the new universities in the country. The institute has undertaken various projects and introduced new courses to uplift its status.
The government signed two agreements with the People’s Republic of China. These deals comprise of financial assistance amounting to Chinese Yuan RMB 409m (146.4bn/-) to finance the implementation of various projects in the country.
The projects include the upgrading of the institute to a university of transport and for conducting a feasibility study for the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line. Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Dotto James and the Chinese Ambassador to Tanzania Dr Wang Ke signed the contracts in Dar es Salaam recently.
This was upon the Chinese president’s pledge to assist African countries to upgrade five transport universities. NIT Rector Prof Zacharia Mganilwa said that the aid for upgrading the institute comes after emerging one of the five winners out of 50 countries which competed for the funds.
The funds are intended to expand the NIT campus to the status of a university and improve training capacity that would enable it produce experts who will manage the SGR, ports, airports and airlines.
After the Chinese government’s commitment to extend a grant to the institute, its national university of transport, Zhengzhou University of Aeronautics (ZUA), has also come on board for knowledge transferring to the locals through the NIT. ZUA has partnered with NIT in knowledge sharing that would boost Tanzania’s aviation industry.
The two institutions signed an agreement tocement their relationship in the academic field. Prof Mganilwa described the agreement as part of the institute’s efforts to produce more local experts in aviation industry after learning that the sector suffers a huge deficit of professionals.
Statistics indicate that the number of pilots and maintenance engineers required in the country’s aviation sector has been increasing year after year in the past five years. ZUA president Prof Li Yong acknowledged that he was pleased to have partnership with NIT.
Believing that the relationship would lead to a bright future of the aviation industry in both countries. The agreement, among other things, explains that the two institutions will partner in offering training and hands-on skills to their students.
Lecturers at the NIT would have the opportunity to study post graduate courses at the ZUA since Tanzania does not have higher learning institutions offering post-graduate courses in aeronautics.
The government of Korea also showed interest in supporting NIT, mainly in building its capacity to enable it produce enough local experts to manage operations of the Standard Gauge Railway currently under construction.
The agreement with Korea National University of Transport is expected to see Tanzania produce its own professionals to manage the SGR. Korean experts are supervising the design and construction of the project.
The country’s national railway operator, Korail, was awarded a contract by Tanzania’s Reli Assets Holding Company on April last year to provide consultancy services. Korail supervises the design and construction of the SGR line from Dar es Salaam to Mwanza.
The two higher-learning institutions inked the deal in Dar es Salaam amid hopes that the move would further enhance cooperation between Dar es Salaam and Seoul. Prof Mganilwa said that Korea has been very supportive towards driving the Tanzania’s development, and the agreement would further cement the relationship between the two countries.
The government has been constantly improving transport sector for improving social-economic growth. “To be economically and financially well, the country should have the cost-effective transport sector,” Prof Mganilwa noted, adding: “while the government is working on improving railway infrastructures, we (Institute) should venture into developing human capital for management of these infrastructures.”
Since the government has decided to turn the NIT into University in the future, signing of the accord with the Koreans means that the institute now stands a big chance to address the shortage of the professionals in the railway sector because it opens doors for students and lecturers to pursue further studies in Korea. Yong Hae-ju, who represented Korean Ambassador to Tanzania during the signing ceremony, assured that the agreement would result into much deeper cooperation between the two nations.
On her part, Prof Woo Jungwouk from the Korea University of Transport pointed out that Tanzania has a huge potential of railway transport, urging the NIT to play its role to unleash that potential for the country.
Works, Transport and Communication Deputy Minister Atashasta Nditiye challenged NIT to embrace creativity for the transport and logistics sector since currently the government directs its huge resources to develop transport infrastructure. “I call upon the management to be creative and make the institute a better place for learning,” he said.
He further appealed to graduates to use the skills they obtain from the institute for bringing individual development as well as nation. In its Five-Year Strategic Plan which started 2016/17, the college intends to increase the number of female students.
NIT’s chairman of the Governing Council Prof Blasius Nyichomba pledged that the institute would continue supporting the government in providing technical consultancy on the logistic and transport sector. He said the institute is aiming at being the hub for providing training on logistics and transport courses in the African region.