AS time ticks fast towards the historic inauguration of the new Wami Bridge, a key transport infrastructure connecting Tanzania’s eastern and northern zones, travelers and transporters cannot wait for the new experience but significantly, the socio-economic prospects brought by this modern structure.
The construction of the 75bn/- bridge has reached almost 90 per cent and will replace the old one which was constructed in 1959 and does not meet the needs of transporters and travellers between the two, highly populated zones.
The government has been pushing for timely completion of the bridge, which could be opened in a few weeks’ time.
In fact, the Minister for Works and Transport, Prof Makame Mbarawa, recently ordered contractors to complete construction of the new Bridge in Chalinze Council, Coast Region, this month, so that the structure could be opened for use.
Speaking to the ‘Daily News’ about the historic project, a section of road transport stakeholders, including transporters and travellers through their associations, expressed high optimism that the bridge will have massive benefits to them.
Tanzania Truck Owners Association (TATOA), whose members offer cargo transport services to and from northern and neighboring regions, said the new structure will improve transportation services and cut regular accidents in the area.
Mr Rahim Dosa, TATOA’s Spokesperson, told the ‘Daily News’ in an interview that it is hectic crossing the current one-lane old bridge, a situation which contributed to persistent accidents at Wami.
“Since the old bridge has only one-lane, it allows only one vehicle from one side to cross while a vehicle on the other side has to wait. But the new bridge will allow vehicles from both sides to cross. We congratulate the government for this because it was a long-lasting suffering,” Mr Dosa explained.
The Tanzania Passengers Rights Association (CHAKUA) national Chairperson Hassan Mchanjama also hailed the government for ensuring that transport challenges are addressed, mentioning that the area was prone to accidents.
On other hand, Mr Mchanjama said the structure will be economically useful for traders who travel to northern regions and vice versa, since they would reach their destinations safely and timely because movement of vehicles would be fast-tracked.
“We are eagerly waiting for the operation of this bridge, we thank the President Samia Suluhu Hassan for making it happen,” he said.
Mr Issa Nkya, Treasurer of the Tanzania Bus Owners Association (TABOA), echoed the feelings, saying when roads become good accidents are reduced.
“We believe that once this bridge is operational the time of crossing would be significantly reduced, hence, no delays. Unlike the old bridge, buses took more time because they had to cross one after the other from two sides of the bridge,” he pointed out.
At the weekend, CCM’s Ideology and Publicity Secretary, Shaka Hamdu Shaka, said the party was satisfied with the pace of implementation of the bridge construction.
“Its completion will be a record in history. When President Samia came into office a lot was said about this project, insinuating that the president will not continue with this project,” Mr Shaka said.
According to Minister Mbarawa, the project includes the construction of 513.5 metres and connecting roads with 3.8 kilometres.
When briefing the minister about the project, Tanzania National Roads Agency (TANROADS) for Coast Region, Heririsper Mollel said the contractor has completed the base of the bridge by 100 per cent and the upper section 256 metres of 513.5metres, which is equivalent to 50 per cent.
He said other works which have been completed include construction of culverts and laying 188 water pipes out of 206 which is equivalent to 91 per cent.
On construction of connecting roads, Eng Mollel said that so far, a total of 3.4 kilometres have been completed.
After completion of the new bridge, the contractor will also repair the old bridge.
The new bridge will have a length of 510 and width of 11.85 metres and is constructed at a distance of 670 meters from the old bridge.
The Wami Bridge construction project is being undertaken by the Chinese Contractor firm, known as Power Construction Corporation Limited.
The bridge has also been put in the ruling party CCM 2020/2025 election manifesto as well as in the Third National Five-Year Development Plan (FYDPIII) that describes it as a key project that is beneficial for the country.
The FYDP III has placed priority in taking comparative advantage of the geography and size of the country to enhance competitiveness.
The document points out that road and bridge infrastructures that will create solid intra and inter-linkages will crucially cement Tanzania’s position as an ideal location for investments in market-seeking industries that target the emerging African markets in East African Community (EAC) and Southern African Development Community (SADC).