PRESIDENT John Magufuli yesterday described the 699.2bn/- Kigongo-Busisi bridge project as yet another proof that Tanzania isn’t poor and has the resources to fund its major development projects.
The government, through domestic revenues, will fully finance the construction of the 3.2km bridge to pass across the Lake Victoria stream.
“To me, this project is proof that our country isn’t poor. We have neither asked anyone for the funds nor knocked on the door for assistance,” the President said when laying foundation stone for the project kick-off in Mwanza region.
The President revealed that realising the importance of the bridge, he has ensured its construction gets underway before he completes his term.
“I told myself that I must do it immediately before I complete my tenure because I am not sure if the next President would come in and proceed with it,” he stated, noting that the bridge is economically viable to the people in the northern part and the country at large.
Dr Magufuli used the platform to ask the contractors, China Civil Engineering Construction Group (CCECG) and China Railway 15th Bureau Group Co Ltd, to finish the project at the right time and if possible even before the contract period and asked them to work day and night.
The government has also set aside 3.1bn/- for compensating those who will pave the way for the construction of the project.
For his side, National Assembly Speaker Mr Job Ndugai pledged that the Parliament, through endorsing budget allocations, would continue supporting the government to implement such a major project.
Works, Transport and Communications Minister Engineer Isack Kamwelwe said the construction of the bridge was for among other reasons, the need to provide a reliable transport infrastructure for Kigongo and Busisi residents.
Since Mwanza city is the commercial hub in the Lake Zone, the construction of the bridge seeks to enhance the free movement of people and goods to and from Mwanza, and thus open up economic opportunities in the two destinations.
The bridge is also expected to stimulate production in fisheries and agricultural sector, thus boosting industrial economy in the northern regions and facilitate trade with neighbouring countries of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the DR Congo.
Once completed, the Kigongo-Busisi Bridge will be the longest above lake waters in the East African region. Shedding light on technical part of the bridge, Chief Executive Officer of the Tanzania National Roads Agency (Tanroads), Engineer Patrick Mfugale, said the bridge would be connected to 34km road from Mwanza and will have 28.4 metres width.
A total of 1600 vehicles can pass on the bridge at a time since the facility will have the capacity of carrying over 180 tonnes.
Currently, people use wagon ferry to cross between Kigongo and Busisi, which is the main route to Mwanza from neighbouring regions of Kagera and Geita which borders those neighbouring countries.
He said currently vehicles could spend at least two hours to cross to the other side of the Lake on a ferry.
“This is because they have to spend about two hours in queue waiting for their turn to get to the ferry and spend another 45 minutes to reach next side,” Engineer Mfugale said.
Meanwhile, as the country readies for 58 independence anniversary tomorrow, President Magufuli urged Tanzanians to always embrace peace and security in order to maintain the developments achieved so far.
“Where there is peace there is development; without peace even constructing this bridge would be impossible, let’s keep protecting our peace like an eyeball,” he emphasized.