THE Lake Zone is set to reap big dividends upon completion of the MV Mwanza‘Hapa Kazi Tu’, whose construction has reached 82 per cent.
The giant ship in the East African history ever to exist at 92.6-metres-long, 20-metres-high and 17-metres-wide has been transferred from the slipway into the water for final touches, which include sea trial, fitting navigation equipment and final painting among other things that are expected to be finalised within a time frame of four months.
The proceeds from its operations will become ‘gold’ as the giant ship will add weight to demand in all walks of life.
The construction of MV Mwanza Hapa Kazi Tu which has a capacity of carrying 1,200 passengers and 400 tonnes of cargo is being implemented by South Korea’s Gas Entec Ship-Building Engineering Co Ltd.
The ship is expected to bring significant boost to the Lake Zone economy connectivity, competition and interdependence as it will act as a bridge for Tanzanians among other people in East Africa to trade, explore well the new emerging market such as in agricultural crops, fisheries resource, tourism and leisure to generate income through investment.
Economic expert based at the Saint Augustine University of Tanzania (SAUT), Dr Isaac Safari told the ‘Daily News’ that it is time for citizens to think and take appropriate decisions on the best ways to use the ship economically by setting up investments related to agriculture, fishery and industries as well as accommodation like hotels for expected guests.
He said the ship will come up with immense employment opportunities directly from those who will conduct its daily operations, such as the captain, sailors, bed attendants and chief engineers.
However, Dr Safari said there are more indirect employment opportunities that will be created across all the Lake Victoria’s port where the ship will be docked, urging citizens to take advantage of the situation.
“MV Mwanza will complement the electrified Standard Gauge Railway’s (SGR) because passengers and cargo from Dar es Salaam going to Bukomba or Uganda will use it as the entry and exit point, saving huge amount of money and time which could be spent by using trucks or busses,” Dr Safari said.
He added “The ship will result not only to expansion of the Mwanza City but also expansion of all towns where it will serve.”
Deputy Minister for Work and Transport, Mr Atupele Mwakibete, while gracing the event which was held in Mwanza South Port, said the newly built ship will operate in all Lake Victoria major ports.
Mr Mwakibete mentioned the ship operation field to include Mwanza, Kagera, Geita and Mara within the country while Uganda and Kenya will be served through Port Bell, Jinja Port and Kisumu Port respectively, thus increasing economic production and social welfare as it will reduce citizens’ spending on transportation while creating new market for agriculture, fishing business and tourism among other sectors.
Mr Mwakibete urged the Tanzania Port Authority (TPA) to renovate all ports, including Mwanza South and North Port that will be used by the ship so that they can meet daily operations requirements.
The construction of MV Mwanza Hapa Kazi Tu is being undertaken by the South Korea-based companies, namely Gas Entec in collaboration with the Kangnam Corporation at a cost of 109bn/-.
According to Marine Services Company Limited’s (MSCL) Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr Eric Hamissi, 88 percent of the funds, which is 93.8bn/- has already been paid to the contractors, saying the remaining amount is also available and will be paid after completion of the project
Mr Hamissi noted that after the final construction that involves sea trial, wiring and painting, the ship will be granted quality assurance certificate by Tanzania Shipping Agencies Corporation (TASAC) for its operations to kick off.
“The ship will serve both as a transport and business vehicle as well as a leisure vessel,” he added.
MV Mwanza Hapa Kazi Tu Construction Project Manager, Eng. Vitus Mapunda hinted that the life span of the ship will be 50 years as it will operate on fresh water.
For his part, Mwanza Regional Commissioner (RC), Mr Adam Malima thanked the government for allocating funds for construction of the ship, which will help further to integrate Mwanza regional economy with other Lake regions and the East African countries’ economies at large.
He pledged cooperation with all government agencies for completion of other strategic projects, including the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) Lot Five from Mwanza to Isaka and Kigongo to Busisi Bridge that will supplement MV Mwanza Hapa Kazi Tu to accelerate economic production in Mwanza to other lake zone regions and neighbouring East African countries.
Meanwhile, Kagera RC, Mr Albert Chalamila said the new ship will increase agricultural and fisheries production as well as tourism activities in Kagera Region, calling on investors to invest more in the mentioned sectors.
He said the government has allocated over 30bn/- for expansion and renovation of Kemondo and Bukoba Ports to enable the ship to operate in Kagera Region.
Equally, Geita RC, Mr Martin Shigella urged investors to utilise investment opportunities available in Geita Region, especially in the gold mining sector, saying with the ship’s operation, his region can do business in East Africa as it is neighbouring Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda as well as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Mr Mwakibete commended MSCL for efficient supervision of the project while observing value for money and time, urging for similar efforts on undertaking the 18 per cent left for construction.