New Karema Port kicks off operations

KAREMA Port on Lake Tanganyika starts its operations today, marking a new milestone in the country’s shipping industry and cross-border trade.

The construction of the landmark project was implemented by the government through the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) is now 100 per cent complete and will hold the key to Tanzania’s maritime strategy.

Tanganyika District Commissioner Mr Onesmo Buswelu announced the good news during the stakeholders’ meeting while representing Katavi Regional Commissioner, Ms Mwanamvua Mrindoko.

“New Karema Port will serve as a new trade corridor, connecting the southern part of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi and Zambia to Dar es Salaam Port,” he said.

He explained that the government decided to construct the new port terminal to exploit the untapped great potential of cross-border trade with DR – Congo, a new entrant with the East African Community (EAC) bloc.

“On behalf of citizens in the region, the RC (Ms Mrindoko) is grateful to President Samia Suluhu Hassan for realizing the significance and potentiality of this strategic port terminal to Katavi region, nation’s economic development and position as the trade hub in Africa,” he emphasized.

Mr Buswelu called on citizens from the area and beyond to tap lucrative business and market opportunities that will be generated by the port.

“I call upon traders and farmers to use the newly constructed port terminal instead of unofficial ports on Lake Tanganyika to enable the government to collect revenues and plan their development accordingly,” he said.

The strategic port terminal was constructed by China’s Xiamen Ongoing Construction Group at the cost of 47.9bn/-. Its construction started in October 2019.

The construction involved 22,500 square meters of heavy pavement, a tides breaker, a multi-purpose 150-meters berth to accommodate up to two vessels of 75 metres in length, with 15 meters in width, dredging and deepening of the port entrance, office building, passengers lounge and a general cargo warehouse.

Others on the list include the installation of an ICT network, water supply, storage and wastewater treatment system.

The new port terminal’s initial capacity is one million tonnes of cargo however, there is room for expanding capacity up to 3 million tonnes since TPA has acquired the land measuring 66 acres.

The Deputy Minister for Works and Transport, Engineer Fred Mwakibete had this to say: “The terminal will boost a cross-border trade with neighbouring countries surrounding Lake Tanganyika…it’s an economic gateway to the countries bordering the lake.”

TPA Lake Tanganyika Ports Acting Manager Mr Edward Mabula said the objective of the construction of the port was to exploit the untapped great potential of trade in Eastern DRC.

Located on the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika in the Katavi region, 123 kilometres from Mpanda town and 230 kilometres from Kigoma Port, the new Karema Port will be linked with a Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) to be constructed from Mpanda town with the government finalising plans to rehabilitate a road to the terminal.

The SGR line will branch off at Kaliua and head to Karema Port to target large markets in the south – eastern DR – Congo, Zambia and Burundi.

Members of Parliament for Mpanda Rural and Mpanda Urban constituencies, Mr Juma Kakoso and Mr Sebastian Kapufi in separate interviews told this paper that the new terminal holds the key to Tanzania’s maritime strategy.

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