COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Training of International Airport Staff if the foundation for regional economic recovery

22 Jul 2020

East African Community Headquarters, Arusha, Tanzania, 22nd July, 2020: The COVID-19 global pandemic has left economies crumbling worldwide and the East African Community (EAC) region has not been spared. On a positive note though, “the EAC Secretariat is doing all it takes to ensure that the EAC Partner States’ economies can quickly recover to normalcy” said Hon Christophe Bazivamo, the Deputy Secretary General Productive and Social Sectors at the EAC Secretariat.

Together with the German Ambassador to Tanzania and the East African Community, her Excellency Regine Hess, he opened the two-day training of trainers of staff at Kilimanjaro International Airport on COVID-19 preparedness and response in aviation services.

The training that entails airports’ emergency preparedness and response, staff and public health safety at the airports and prevention and surveillance of the spread of COVID-19 in all major international airports in the EAC Partner States is expected to stimulate confidence among international travellers to visit the region, Bazivamo emphasized.

On her part, the German Ambassador emphasised that “infectious diseases do not respect borders, a lesson that was learned from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and which is also true for the COVID-19 pandemic”. She highlighted that the training will not only provide skills that enable airport staff to handle travellers safely but that the trained trainers would also share those skills with further staff members from different airport sectors thereby safeguarding themselves and other people.

The training is being convened by the EAC Secretariat and organised and coordinated by the EAC Civil Aviation Safety and Security Oversight Agency (CASSOA), while AMREF Flying Doctors are implementing the training. “This training has aroused a lot of excitement globally and across Africa, in particular in the aviation sector, as it has not yet been done elsewhere” said Emile Nguza Arao, Executive Director of CASSOA.

According to Hon. Bazivamo, the training programme was commended by the Joint Ministerial Meeting for the Ministers responsible for Health, Trade, Transport and Ministers responsible for EAC Affairs. He added that the EAC is undertaking several initiatives to boost economic recovery within the region. These include among others; establishing the COVID-19 electronic cargo tracking system and training personnel on COVID-19 preparedness and response at the border crossing points.

Mrs. Christine Mwakatobe, Acting Managing Director of the Kilimanjaro Airport Development Company Limited (KADCO) emphasized the importance of the training and promised to keep up on the development of own courses by the newly certified trainers with further trainings to follow for more airport staff.

The training is in line with the CASSOA vision of attaining a safe, secure and efficient regional aviation industry and their mission to develop, promote and coordinate implementation of sustainable civil aviation safety and security oversight systems in the Partner States. It is also in line with the guidelines provided by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a UN Specialized Agency.

The training is facilitated by the German Government through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)

The next training of trainers is scheduled for 28-31 July at the International Airport in Bujumbura, Burundi.