PRESIDENT John Magufuli’s fifth phase government has put more impetus on improving the country’s economy and people’s welfare.
The regime’s first five-year term clearly illustrates the efforts, zeal and commitment that the government has committed in bringing positive changes to the over 55 million population nation.
Key towards achieving that objective has been improving transportation and mobility.
Business studies show that transportation accounts on average between 10 and 15 per cent of household expenditures, while it accounts for around 4 per cent of the costs of each unit of output in the manufacturing sector.
Cognisant of the significance of water transportation towards improving economic growth and improvement of social lives among Tanzanians, the fifth-phase government has demonstrated huge resolve to improve this sub-sector by constructing new vessels and improving port infrastructures across the country.
President Magufuli has delivered his presidential campaign promise to bring changes in water transport by renovating and constructing new ships in Lake Victoria.
In 2018, he witnessed the signing of contracts for construction of a new big ship and a slipway as well as renovation of vessels currently plying Lake Victoria in projects that will contribute to making Mwanza, a regional trade and transportation hub.
The projects worth 152.363bn/- included the construction of new passenger ship with capacity to accommodate 1,200 passengers and 400 tonnes of cargo at the cost of 88.764bn/-, rehabilitation of MV Victoria at the tune of 22.712bn/- and MV Butiama, which stopped operations since 2014, at the cost of 4.897bn/-.
On Sunday, residents of Kagera and Mwanza regions witnessed the floating of the ‘new Victoria ship’ after a year of renovation.
The ship made its trail trip from Mwanza to Kagera region, with the successful journey taking approximately six hours.
The inaugural journey from Mwanza to Bukoba Port marked the new dawn for the residents of the two regions, who had eagerly waited for the ship for years.
In September, 2018, President Magufuli also ordered for the construction of a new ferry that would ply the Ukerewe-Mwanza route.
The new ferry replaces MV Nyerere, which capsized the same year. Last month, MV Rubondo ferry was launched in Geita region.
The new ferry is expected to boost tourism activities in Rubondo Island, which is a unique and most attractive island in Lake Victoria.
The government through the Tanzania Port Authority (TPA) has constructed three modern vessels that will operate in Lake Nyasa.
The newly-constructed vessels are MV Mbeya II, with the capacity of carrying 200 passengers and 200 tonnes of cargo. Others are MV Njombe and MV Ruvuma- each costing 5.5bn/-and was completed in July 2017.
MV Ruvuma and MV Njombe have the capacity to carry 1000 tonnes of cargo each.
The coming of the vessels is expected to open up more economic and business opportunities for the three regions of Mbeya, Njombe and Ruvuma as well as neighbouring countries of Mozambique and Zambia.
The ships will also open up the ‘Mtwara Development Corridor’ and enable Mtwara and Mbamba Bay ports to serve the market in Malawi and reduce the competitiveness of Mozambique Ports to Dar es Salaam Port.
Construction of ships in Lake Tanganyika
In 2018, the government announced the construction of a new ship with the capacity to carry 600 passengers and 200 tonnes of cargo on the eastern side of Lake Tanganyika, supplementing duties carried out by the oldest MV Liemba.
The government has also continued to renovate MV Liemba.
MV Liemba was built in 1913 in Germany, and was one of three vessels the German Empire used to control Lake Tanganyika during the early part of the First World War.
Her captain had her scuttled on 26 July 1916 in Katabe Bay during the German retreat from Kigoma. In 1924, a British Royal Navy salvage team raised her and in 1927 she returned to service as a Liemba.
In ensuring reliable water transport and security, the government has constructed a number of ferries, patrol boats in lakes and sea as well as constructing berths, improving ports and providing education to the wananchi on the proper utilization of resources.
The fifth-phase efforts are praiseworthy, as for many years, Tanzania and other East African Community member states that share Lake Victoria have not made optimal use of marine transport on the lake despite its considerable potential to promote regional trade through the use of relatively low-cost inland water transport.