MWANZA: THE government is walking the talk of its intention to open up the Central Corridor on Friday after it inaugurated a cargo ship christened “MV Umoja, Kazi Iendelee” which has been rehabilitated at a cost of 8,422,840 US dollars, equivalent to 21bn/-.
The rehabilitation of the marine vessel which is used to transport wagons commenced on November 2021 by South Korean SM Solutions and was completed in September this year.
The inauguration of MV Umoja went in line with the signing of three contracts for rehabilitation of MV Liemba A passenger and cargo ferry plying in Lake Tanganyika and rehabilitation projects for MT Nyangumi for carrying petroleum products and MT Ukerewe, a rescue vessel.
Speaking at the event, Deputy Minister for Transport, Mr David Kihenzile representing the docket minister Prof Makame Mbarawa said the ship will be an important cargo transportation link between the central railway and neighbouring railways of Uganda and Kenya.
Mr Kihenzile said cargo transportation through the ship will increase efficiency in the transport sector by transporting large cargo volume at once and at affordable charges compared to land transport.
“This kind of transport is friendly to the environment and safe, thus the resumption of MV Umoja in transport services is expected to stimulate trade between the East African countries,” he said.
He explained that the signing of the contracts of three projects aims at meeting the transportation needs of passengers in Lake Tanganyika and utilise the available opportunities to serve the markets of the neighbouring countries in East Africa.
“Rehabilitation of MV Liemba will help to reinstate transportation services of passengers and cargo to people around Lake Tanganyika and neighbouring countries including DR Congo, Burundi and Zambia,” he said.
On Lake Victoria, the Deputy Minister said the government through Marine Services Company Limited (MSCL) decided to rehabilitate MT Nyangumi in order to meet the needs of transporting petroleum products to Uganda and South Sudan.
He said MT Ukerewe has been rehabilitated so as to support rescue operations in Lake Victoria in case of an emergency.
He explained that the signing of the three contracts makes a total of six new projects in Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika.
Mr Kihenzile further said that the construction of new MV Mwanza Hapa Kazi Tu and rehabilitation of ships is a huge investment being done by the government at a go to the Great Lakes Region Zone, thus fulfilling the government intention of realising the blue economy agenda.
Marine Services Company Limited (MSCL) Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr Eric Hamiss, explained that the three projects are for passengers, cargo and rescue ships’ rehabilitations on the Great Lakes, Victoria and Tanganyika.
Rehabilitation costs for MV Liemba passengers and cargo ship in Kigoma region (Lake Tanganyika) is 32.9bn/-, MT Nyangumi cargo ship in Mwanza (Lake Victoria) 8.8bn/- as well as 6.3bn/- for MT Ukerewe rescue ship in Mwanza (Lake Victoria).
The rehabilitation period of MV Liemba is 24 months and 10 months for the remaining two ships with major activities among others being installation of new engines, navigation, power and water systems.