WHEN President John Magufuli promised to reinvigorate the marine transport so that it significantly contributes to the country’s economic growth, most likely some individuals doubted him.
Now, if they indeed cast doubt on his commitment they better take a tour of Lake Victoria, Lake Nyasa and Lake Tanganyika Ports to see for themselves the magnitude of the ongoing improvements including major repairs and construction of new ships and ferries.
Records speak for themselves with regard to the ongoing construction and expansion of ports in all major bodies (Seas and Lakes) where hundreds of billions of shillings have so far been spent in undertaking the noble tasks.
Exclusively speaking on the construction and rehabilitation of ships and ferries, President Magufuli will enter the country’s history books for doing justice to the nation by restoring the lost country’s glory in the marine sector.
In just about 100 days since he took the presidential oath to lead the nation for the second term, President Magufuli’s quest to reform marine sector is gaining momentum.
It would be recalled that late last month a ship-’MV Chato II- Hapa Kazi Tu’- was commissioned to the State, ready to offer services on Lake Victoria. The new ferry would be plying between ChatoMharamba- Nkome and neighbouring islands including Senga, Bukondo and Izumacheli.
In the same month (January), another vessel christened ‘MV Mbeya II’, worth 3.1bn/- with the capacity to carry 200 passengers and 20 cars, all totalling 100 tonnes, was inaugurated in Lake Nyasa.
When launching the vessel (MV Mbeya I), Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa called on Tanzanians to exploit economic opportunities brought by the marine transportation networks.
The inauguration of the ships, if one takes stock of what Dr Magufuli has done in the marine sector in about 100 days since his re-election last October, it is an achievement worth recording.
It should be noted that the government has also revived two cargo ships in Lake Nyasa to tap business potential in the area, including attracting trade from the neighbouring countries of Malawi and some parts of Zambia and Mozambique.
Premier Majaliwa expressed optimism that the inception of MV Mbeya II would go a long way towards opening up available economic opportunities within the Southern Highlands zone and connecting the country to neighbouring markets.
The vessel, which has capacity of carrying 300 passengers and 200 tonnes of cargo is expected to address transport woes to residents along the lake’s shoreline in Mbeya, Njombe and Ruvuma regions and the neighbouring countries of Malawi and Mozambique.
Since President Magufuli assumed the highest office in 2015, one of the tasks he vowed to undertake was to revive marine transport in all major water bodies in the country.
Under the management of the bolstered Marine Services Company Limited (MSCL) and Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) President Magufuli’s administration brought back smiles to residents in the Lake Zone by rehabilitating MV Victoria, MV Butiama and currently a massive work is going on involving the construction of the MV Mwanza-Hapa Kazi Tu, a modern multipurpose ship that will replace the illfated MV Bukoba.
To create modern marine transport sustainability the government is currently building a Slipway, also known as Shipyard Facility at Mwanza South Port. The Slipway is meant to provide a safe location for mega ship building and servicing.
The new shipyard is currently used for construction of MV Mwanza and after completion of the project the facility will be used for ship maintenance, including leasing to clients from the nearby countries in building mega ships or maintenance, bringing foreign currency to the country.
Following allocation of funds in the 2020/21 financial year the government is planning to implement a total of nine development projects in Lake Victoria and Tanganyika and in the Indian Ocean.
The projects involve construction of a new wagon ferry in Lake Victoria that will be having a carrying capacity of 3,000 tonnes, major rehabilitation of the tug boat for rescue and towing operations christened MT Ukerewe and a tanker named MT Nyangumi.
Other projects in Lake Tanganyika will include the construction of one multipurpose ship with the capacity of carrying 600 passengers and 400 tonnes of cargo, construction of 4,000 tonne -cargo ship and major rehabilitation of MV Liemba and MT Sangara.
Further, the four projects in Lake Tanganyika are all planned to exploit the existing potentials along the lake particularly in serving the great market of DRC, Burundi and Zambia.
According to MSCL officials, the Company plans to extend its operations from the great lakes region to the Indian Ocean by serving ports of Dar es Salaam, Pemba, Tanga, Mtwara, Zanzibar, Mombasa, Comoro, Madagascar and Seychelles.