THE plans to link Karema port and Kigoma port is underway by constructing a 113.2 kilometres asphalt road.
The road will also link the regions—Kigoma and Katavi to ensure Karema port utilised at its full capacity.
Katavi’s Tanroads Manager Eng Martin Mwakabende told the ” Daily News” recently that floating of tender for construction of road infrastructure has been done and will be opened at the end of this month and its construction will take two years.
“The completed of the road, which is a major stumbling block, will warrant a full swing operation of Karema port,” emphasised Eng Mwakabende.
The road construction is divided into two lots being section covering 54.14kms g from Kagwila to Kasekese while the other is 59.15kms connecting Kasekese and Karema Port on Lake Tanganyika.
The Karema port’s newly-constructed cargo and passenger terminal kicked off operations last September, but is yet to attract sizable users and many point to unfriendly road infrastructure as the main undoing.
“Karema port is a massive investment and strategically located,” a dhow operator, Mussa Rashid told the “Daily News”.
Mr Rashid, who plies the world’s second deepest second largest freshwater lake, transporting foodstuffs including cassava, rice and maize between Kasanga, Kabwe and Kibirizi ports, said despite its elegancy and good location, Karema port, businesses find it difficult to use the terminal because of poor state of the road which links the port to the Katavi-Kigoma.
He urged the government to fast-track the construction of the road to enable local and international traders to utilise the facility, which links Tanzania and land-linked countries of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Zambia.
“Once this road is constructed to tarmac level, many people will choose Karema port as their gateway to domestic and international markets in DRC and Burundi,” he said, adding that the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) should do more promotion campaigns so that people become aware of the advantages of using the new container terminal.
His sentiments were echoed by Justine Mtweve, a trader in Katavi, who said poor road infrastructure is to blame for traders’ reluctance to use Karema port.
“We’re really grateful to the TPA and the government for the logical decision to construct this port in Tanganyika District, it is easy and short to cross to Kalemie Port which is located on the Eastern part of DRC, but the government should solve the road puzzle,” Mr Mtweve urged.
Salome Bigize, who transports casava to DRC, insisted that the muddy road, which has many potholes and also prone to floods at some sections, remains a major stumbling block for the envisaged full swing operation of Karema Port.
“There is no question that Karema is the best port on Lake Tanganyika but poor road is the main reason why people are still not utilising it,’ she asserted.
Lake Tanganyika Ports Manager, Mr Edward Mabula told the ’Daily News” that a number of traders and transporters have shown interest to use Karema port and expressed optimism that the impending construction of the road will boost usage of the terminal.
Karema port will also be linked with a Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) to be constructed from Mpanda town.
The SGR line will branch off at Kaliua and head to Karema port to target large markets in the south – eastern DRC, Zambia and Burundi.