THE sight of the four small boats at the Muleba-based Magarini Port in Kagera could be seen from afar, loading cargo and passengers. The boats ply several islands of Lake Victoria, including Chakazimbe (island).
The operators told the ‘Daily News’ that the number of boats has been increasing after the completion of a- 1.7bn/- port rehabilitation project. The project that took place in the 2018/19 financial year was implemented by Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA), where various infrastructures were installed.
The fund was spent on, among other things, construction of a berth, passengers lounge with the ability to accommodate 200 people, a cargo shed to accommodate 300 tonnes, a water tank as well as washrooms and security facilities. The ‘Daily News’ observed all facilities equipped with important social services, including water and electricity.
There was also a small house to accommodate an alternative power generating machine (generator). The captain of ‘’Kazi na Sala’’ boat which plies Magarine to Chakazimbe Island, Mr John Kajubi said the presence of improved infrastructure encourages economic growth to individuals and the nation at large.
“There are lots of various economic activities in the islands. We are set to make more money when the ships start operations here because people will need our services from the Islands to the port, and the opposite is true” said the boat operator.
He says that once they start operating, the ships will attract more people to venture into fishing activities and benefit from markets in Mwanza and other parts of the country. Extension of fishing activities, he says, means expansion of interactions in the Islands.
However, despite an increase in various activities following the presence of modern infrastructures, Magarine was among the ports and dhow-wharfs that have been covered by water due to an increase in the water table of Lake Victoria. “That is the main challenge we face because our customers have to step in the water during boarding and landing,” said Mr Kajubi.
Commenting, the Port Officer, Mr Kawamala Mujuni admitted to the challenge, saying TPA had no immediate measure to take because an increase in the water table is part of climate change impacts. However, he says fighting such a challenge is part of the coming TPA projects set to take off this coming financial year.
“What we are supposed to do here is to elevate the berth. Historically, the last time people experienced an increase in the water table was in the 1960s, and nobody thought that the problem could reappear, especially given the fact that climate change impacts come in various approaches and have been fought according to their nature” he said.
He insisted that fighting climate change impacts was a cross cutting issue which should involve all stakeholders, and that TPA was putting efforts to meet all of them so that they can find a lasting solution.
Mr Mujuni also admitted to the increase in human interaction at Magarine after rehabilitations, affirming that more projects are in line for further improvement of the port as part of social service provision to Tanzanians. The ‘Daily News’ experienced the same situation (water table increase) at Kemondo and Bukoba dhow-wharfs, with boats docking on the main berth when New Victoria Hapa Kazi tu is not operating.
This paper also paid a visit to Chato-based newly rehabilitated Nyamilembe port in Geita region, and found all important infrastructures, including a modern berth, installed and ready for use. Two navigation light facilities were also part of the newly installed infrastructures near the berth, but still the port is lying idle, pending ship operations.
The Port Officer, Engineer Abraham Msina said that TPA spent about 3.3bn/- in the 2018/19 financial year for installation of various facilities, including a passenger lounge with the capacity of 300 people as well as a cargo shed with a capacity of 100 tonnes. Security and alternative power generation facilities are also part of the standby infrastructures at Nyamilembe port.
“The berth is able to accommodate three ships with a capacity to ferry over 200 passengers and 10 tonnes of cargo each at a time. There is also a space to accommodate over 10 small boats with a capacity of 50 passengers each,” he said. He stressed that all infrastructures are in place, insisting on relevant authorities to hasten ship operations in order to serve prospective customers who have already shown interest using the Nyamilembe port.
Apart from local investors who are ready to set their boats, Nyamilembe will also serve neighboring countries since the port is already connected with Burundi and Rwanda roads.
“We have two traders who plan to import sugar from Uganda once the ships are here. At the same time we have those who want to bring their boats to ferry people from the port to various islands of Lake Victoria,” said Engineer Msina. Reached for comment on plans to use the standby ports on Lake Victoria, Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for Marine Services Company Limited (MSCL), Mr Philemon Bagambilana said.
“We have MV Clarias which is supposed to start its operations in the near future. It is currently in the final stages of rehabilitation, and we expect that it will be in use by August.” Like New MV Victoria Hapa Kazi tu, MV Clarias is undergoing the same major rehabilitations, including fixing of new and modern machinery to let it provide quick and reliable services all the time.
It will have routes from Mwanza to Nyamilembe, Magarine, Kemondo and Bukoba ports through various islands, including Gozba. MSCL has already conducted their survey and found many people in need of reliable water transport for long routes, especially from the Islands to Mwanza region.
He says MV Umoja is also on rehabilitation and will soon be in operation for cargo ferrying to the newly constructed and rehabilitated ports on Lake Victoria. Mr Bagambilana explained further that not only Lake Victoria, but the company is set to offer reliable water transport at all ports countrywide after the ongoing ship building and rehabilitations projects are over.