What 260bn/- fishing port means to Southern Circuit

KILWA is well set to experience an influx of tourists, both local and foreigners, thanks to the government’s decision to set up a 260bn/- modern fishing port at Kilwa Kivinje in Lindi Region.

Construction of the fishing port has been endorsed by the sixth-phase government under President Samia Suluhu Hassan and the project is already taking shape.

Preliminary preparations for the construction of the fishing port have started, with geological investigation of soil (soil testing), said Kilwa District Commissioner, Ms Zainabu Kawawa recently.

She said the port is envisaged to produce 60,000 tonnes of fish annually that will be supplied in the local markets and for export.

“Experts have assured us that basing on the nature of our sea, the port will have the capacity to fish out at least 60,000 tonnes annually,” said the DC.

The government also plans to procure fishing vessels for a special zone of deep sea resources as a key step to capitalise on the Blue Economy.

In its third Five-Year Development Plan (FYDP III), the government has placed much focus on ‘Blue Economy’ by encouraging sustainable use of the water or ‘blue’ resources.

The plan places emphasis on productive activities that rely on water-based resources include fishing, offshore prospecting and extraction of oil and gas, tourism, fish farming, aquaculture, shipping and maritime transport, seabed extractive industries, marine biotechnology, bio prospecting and offshore renewable energy.

Further, robust systems of maritime peace and security are key to attracting investment in water-based resources. Therefore, in implementing this plan, the government is putting in place an enabling business and investment environment in order to attract local and foreign investors so as to increase the contribution of this sector in the national economy.

Recently, the Deputy Minister for Livestock and Fisheries, Abdallah Ulega told the National Assembly that the project is expected to be accomplished within 24 months.

The deputy minister was responding to a basic question by Kilwa South MP, Ally Kassinge, who had sought to know when the strategic project would take off.

According to Mr Ulega, the agreement for the execution of a project involving the Ministry and M/S China Harbor Engineering Company was signed on June 7, 2022.

Mr Ulega said preliminary preparations for the construction of the port have started and construction is expected to be completed within 24 months.

Such was good news for people of Kilwa and Lindi Region in general, as DC Kawawa insisted that the doors were open for more investors to set up their businesses especially in the tourism hospitality industry.

“We’ve enough land (beach plots) inclusive for investors to set up hotels and other recreational facilities,” she said.

For her, this port will be one of the strategic projects that will spearhead the Resilient Natural Resource Management for Tourism and Growth (REGROW) project, which among other things, seeks to strengthen the management of protected areas and promote nature-based tourism in Southern Tanzania.

“The new port will add up to well-known attractions that Kilwa is blessed with, which include clean natural beaches, coral reefs, ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara,” said the DC.

She also said that Kilwa, well known as the Persian City, still exists and is well preserved as a World Heritage site.

Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981, Kilwa Kisiwani is one of the renowned historic tourist destinations in Tanzania, housing many landmark historic structures, including the Great Mosque and the Mkutini Palace.

“The district is placing much emphasis and focus on tourism promotion and preservation of nature. The infrastructures are perfect to allow investments and the district could be easily reached by sea, road or plane. We’ve a well-functioning airport here,” she said.

Her sentiments were equally shared by the District Executive Director (DED) Eston Ngilangwa, who said Kilwa is a unique place, with a good number of historical sites ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara.

Kilwa remains one of the popular historical sites in Tanzania, East Africa, Africa and the world at large. The history of Kilwa has existed since time immemorial. This is due to the fact that it is one of the popular areas that were used as capitals since slave trade when Arabs invaded east Africa for trading activities. For instance, there are so many buildings on the coast that were built by colonialists like the Portuguese palisade in the area.

“It is believed that these two towns (Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara) by then (from 9th to 11th century), were more modern than London. Kilwa was the semi-global system of trade between India, China, Middle East and East Africa,” Mr Ngilangwa said.

With the ruins remaining unspoiled and the extensive historical site worth seeing, Kilwa is a typical representation of Swahili civilization and culture of East Africa.

“Kilwa Kisiwani is the first town in the history of this word to use currency in trade but few people including most Tanzanians know this fact…it is imperative, we remind the world of this fact,” the DED said.

He said apart from ocean tourism, where tourists could enjoys ocean breeze, surf ocean waves and explore the nature of living species in the sea, one can also learn about the ‘Majimaji Circuit’ Maji Maji Uprising (1905-1907)

He said the uprising which lasted for two years and involved people over 10,000 square miles started in Kilwa and ended in Songea, Ruvuma Region. The Maji Maji uprising in Tanganyika was the most significant African challenge to German colonial rule during the brief period when Germany had African colonies.

“In Kilwa, we also have Pindiro Nature Forest Reserve (PNFR), which covers an area of about 12,249 ha. The reserve is the largest remaining coastal forest among the nature reserves of Tanzania. The forest serves as habitat for white hippopotamus (hippos with albinism) that are found only in the area in Tanzania,” Mr Ngilangwa said.

The reserve has other numerous tourist attractions that include crocodiles, grants galago (Galagoides granti), the laser-pouched rat (Beamys hindei) and chequered elephant shrew (Rhynchocyon cirnei macrurus). Others are Nyange dam, network of riverine forests, Mbalahala hills, worshiping sites and German ruins.

In regard to the fishing port, Mr Ngilangwa said it will certainly be the biggest facility of its kind in Africa and that fact is enough to pull a number of visitors and business persons from across the world.

“This port will enable Kilwa to retain its lost glory as a trade hub in the world. Modern fishing equipment including vessels and scientific fishing methods will be applied. It will involve deep sea fishing, processing and exportation of varieties of fishing products,” he said, adding that the main markets will be Asia and Europe.

Kilwa is also rich in ocean tourism, according to Daudi Gidioni, a Tour Guide at Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara. He said many visitors come for nature-based tourism, such as fishing and snorkeling on coral reefs.

“Kilwa offers clean, calm water, pristine beaches, superlative seafood and stunning coral reefs as well as other marine and coastal ecosystems, which form the land and seascape that attracts many tourists and many are coming to enjoy.

Mr Gidioni said that the Indian Ocean is home to several species including largest organisms on earth, and Kilwa, he says also attracts some of the unique species including dolphins and even sharks.

To promote ocean tourism, the Tanzanian Wildlife Authority (TAWA), has availed a glass-bottom fiberglass boat, which is quite seaworthy and it provides a perfect view for visitors to explore a wide variety of fish species, coral reefs and sand.

Speaking about the ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara, Mr Gidioni said that the Sultan’s palaces contained good internal sanitation. The royal palace buildings that were built during the rise and existence of the coastal trading city of Kilwa were well designed for comfortable city life. The structures demonstrated unique construction and were built to a high standard of what we now call modern conveniences.

“The royal family and relatives enjoyed the luxury of good internal sanitation. The buildings used local materials including coral stones,” he said.

The ruins such as the biggest mosque in east Africa by that time are believed to be built around the 11th century by the Islamic merchants who came to the coastal area for trading activities.

These buildings still exist as one of the famous ruins that attract many people to visit the place. It attracts both domestic as well as international visitors.

 

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