MWANZA: TANZANIA, through the Tanzania Shipping Agency Cooperation (TASAC) has signed a contract for the construction of an ambulance boat with Turkish contractor -Loca Muhendislik Gemi Makine Plastik Ve Gida San Tic.L.td.Sti worth 1, 700,000 US D dollars equivalent to 4bn/-.
The event was witnessed by the Deputy Minister for Transport Mr David Kihenzile on behalf of the minister Professor Makame Mbarawa, and attended by government officials from Mwanza Region and TASAC management.
Speaking after the signing of the documents, Mr Kihenzile expressed gratitude to President Samia Suluhu Hassan for continuing to implement Chama Cha Mapinduzi election manifesto across the country by putting forward the interest and needs of the people in every stage of development.
He said the signing of the contract for the construction of the ambulance boat is special and important event to the transport sector.
He said the construction of the boat was of paramount importance because it is going to address first aid challenges and initial treatment to persons who face challenges while traveling in Lake Victoria.
“The genesis of the signing of this project emanate from experience gained when the Mv Bukoba ship capsized in Lake Victoria in 1996 where hundreds people died”, he said.
Mr Kihenzile said since then Tanzania has been struggling to come up with the new strategy to save lives of many Tanzanians when marine accidents occur, noting that statistics show that every year 5,000 people are drown in Lake Victoria. The number includes people from three countries namely Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.
He said the sixth phase government has taken several steps to improve marine transport in Lake Victoria, an indication that President Samia indeed cares for the lives of people in the Great Lakes regions including residents of Mwanza.
“The President has brought more than 4tri/- for execution of various strategic projects and in the transport sector, a lot had been done,” he said.
For his part, TASAC Director General Mr Mohamed Salum said the signing of the contract for the construction of the ambulance boat was part of implementation of the international communication and transport project on Lake Victoria.
“The aim of this project is to improve transport safety and reduce poverty for communities who depend on Lake Victoria in running of their daily lives”, he said.
The DG further said the project is currently being implemented by Tanzania and Uganda, although it was originally planned for implementation by all three countries of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, but Kenya withdrew from the project after disagreement with the mechanism of contributing funds for the implementation of the joint regional activities.
He said the multibillion project is expected to be implementation in 12 months. Upon completion it will increase investment in the transport sector as well as stimulating economic activities in Lake Victoria.
Mr Salum said the project would also establish a communication system and build search and rescue stations to contribute to reducing accidents for Lake Victoria users.
Nyamagana District Commissioner Amina Makiragi said the ambulance boat would serve as a great savior for the residents of Mwanza and other areas in Lake Zone.
TASAC Board of Directors Chairman Mr Mussa Mandia, who lived in Mwanza in the past serving as a captain on Lake Victoria, said the construction of the ambulance boat was historic as the vessel will avail rescue and treatment services to residents while travelling or engaging in economic activities in the lake.
The representative of Loca Muhendislik Gemi Makine Plastik Ve Gida San Tic.L.td.Sti from Turkiye Engineer Anil Ertaylan said the construction of the boat would be completed in time.