A NEW history was written in the country’s transport sub-sector yesterday as President John Magufuli laid the foundation stone for the construction of state-of-the-art Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) tunnels and flyover in Kilosa District, in Morogoro region.
The construction of the quadruple, first ever, railway tunnels and flyover, according to President Magufuli, would not only change the outlook of the old district, but will also stimulate the country’s economic activities.
The tunnels are also envisaged to offer permanent solutions to the destruction of railway infrastructures that has been happening every year on the central railway line, due to flooding caused by heavy rains.
Speaking while laying the foundation stone for the construction of the four tunnels of the flagship SGR project and the construction of a 24 kilometre road from Rudewa to Kilosa town yesterday, President Magufuli, talked of the economic potential of the strategic project, calling for Kilosa residents to exploit opportunities brought by the projects.
Economic activities that are to be exploited include tourism, agriculture and business activities that need to be supported by good infrastructure.
“Kilosa is among the oldest districts in this country, it was established some 103 years ago but there are no big changes that have been made so far, the government has to act accordingly,” said Dr Magufuli at the well-attended event.
President Magufuli noted, on the infrastructure of that kind (SGR), the government is spending a lot of money raised internally for the people to enjoy the fruits of the taxes they are paying.
Excited about the progress made so far, the Head of State said everything is possible, provided there is a political will and commitment among players involved.
“I’m not sure if everyone understood me when I mentioned the idea of constructing the SGR project in Tanzania, I’m sure even some of my cabinet ministers did not believe if this would happen, but now all of you are the witness of what is happening,” a buoyant President Magufuli stated.
The construction of SGR section from Dar es Salaam to Morogoro has reached 82 per cent, while the Morogoro Makutupora section is at 32 per cent of its implementation.
In his welcoming remarks, Director General of the Tanzania Railway Corporation (TRC) Mr Masanja Kadogosa, said so far a total of 3.1tri/- has been paid to the contractor of the 7tri/- SGR project.
He was optimistic that the tunnels would offer permanent solutions to the destruction of railway infrastructures that has been happening every year on the central railway line.
“Every year, a section of central railway line passing alongside the river in Kilosa district is washed away by the floods causing the huge loss to the government, so we opted for the construction of the tunnels in the mountain for it to last longer without being disturbed by climate change,” he said.
The four tunnels being constructed have a total length of 2.7 kilometres.
The Minister for Works, Transport and Communications Isack Kamwelwe, said the government is in the process of extending the SGR line to Katavi and Kigoma for the cargos from Dar es Salaam port to be transported directly to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
“We shall continue with the work of improving infrastructural projects in the country, given that they are key drivers of the economy,” said the minister.
Dr Magufuli, on the other hand, expressed his disappointment on the slow progress of the construction of 24 kilometres road from Rudewa- Kilosa and issued a one-month ultimatum for the constructors to complete the project.
The project started in February 2019 at a cost of 32bn/- is expected to be complete by January 2021, and it is constructed by local engineers, who have joined forces under the firm Umoja Joint Venture.
“We can’t go like this, the project should have reached a good stage by this time but nothing is happening. If I were the minister, I would have sacked them a long time ago, regardless of their nationality,” he said.
In another development, President Magufuli instructed the Minister for Lands, Housing and Human Settlement Development, Mr William Lukuvi, to submit to his office the report on the 11 undeveloped farms that were possessed by few individuals, for their titles to be revoked.
The farms, according to President Magufuli, have to be distributed to villagers who are in need as they have suffered for a long time.
Already, Dr Magufuli has revoked ownership of 49 farms and that the titles of 11 more farms will be cancelled in the next seven days after receiving a report from Mr Lukuvi.
He also warned the government leaders to address challenges in their areas of administrations, instead of taking part in fueling them, noting that those who aren’t ready to do the needful should have resigned.
“I’m aware of the presence of some leaders, who are behind the disputes here, therefore I’m warning the District Executive Director (DED) and the District Commissioner to change their ways,” he said.