CONSTRUCTION of Karema Port, a strategic terminal in Lake Tanganyika, is completed after four years but is yet to be put into use.
The port’s idleness after the investment of 48bn/- propelled the Deputy Minister for Works and Transport, Eng Fred Mwakibete, to issue a directive yesterday to Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) to start the operation of the terminal that will also serve parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Zambia and Burundi.
“The terminal will boost a cross-border trade with neighbouring countries surrounding Lake Tanganyika….it’s an economic gateway to the countries bordering with the lake,” Mr Mwakibete said.
The Deputy Minister issued the directive shortly after touring the port at Karema Ward in Tanganyika District, Katavi.
The minister advised TPA to work closely with district administration and convene a public rally in the area to let members of the public know when the terminal will start operating.
The Karema port construction began in October 2019 before it experienced a number of delays. The main contractor is the Chinese Xiamen Ongoing Construction Group.
The Deputy Minister said that the government is committed to opening up Katavi by improving infrastructures and other social services—including lake transport.
TPA Lake Tanganyika’s all ports acting In-Charge Manager Mr Edward Mabula said the the objective of the construction of the port was to exploit the untapped great potential of trade within Eastern parts of DR—Congo.
The new strategic terminal will be linked with Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) to be constructed from Mpanda town, he added.
The construction of the project involved a multi-purpose berth to accommodate two ships of seven meters in length at once and passenger lounge, and a general storage facility.
Tanganyika District Commissioner Mr Onesmo Buswelo called on citizens from the area and beyond to tap lucrative business and market opportunities that will be generated by the port’
Across sections of citizens interviewed separately said expressed their joy that since the project has been completed would stimulate business and other economic activities in the precinct.
“We are receiving many traders here in Karema and subsequently trade has flourished considerably,” said Mr Walter Msongareli.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Minister directed Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) to formalise unofficial ports in Lake Tanganyika.
He said TPA and Rukwa, Katavi and Kigoma regional administrations should identify all unofficial ports and formalise those eligible to enable the government to collect revenues and plan their development accordingly.
“Our aim is to ensure that revenue lost through these unauthorised ports is directed to the government through official channels,” the deputy minister said when touring the ongoing 4.7bn/- expansion of Kasanga port along the shoreline of Lake Tanganyika in Rukwa.
There are 645 unauthorised ports on Lakes Tanganyika, Victoria, Nyasa and on the Indian Ocean including… some 88 unofficial ports that have been formalised so far, said the deputy minister.
Additionally, Eng Mwakibete said formalisation of unofficial ports in the country will help revenue collections and enhance the fight against smuggling.
Across sections of fishermen separately interviewed by this paper at Kasanga ward including Simeon Mwale said the government has been losing revenue due to smuggling in the area due to the existence of unofficial ports.