WATERWAYS are critically important in transporting goods and people, not doubt in that especially in developing countries including Tanzania, where they serve as avenues for local and regional commerce.
During presidential campaign in 2015, President John Magufuli promised to purchase a new ship to ply in Lake Victoria.
In March last year, the head of state reiterated during his Mwanza Regional tour that his promise was valid and that soon it would be implemented. Last week, the Marine Service Company Limited (MSCL) Acting Managing Director, Mr Eric Hamissi told this paper that his office was doing everything in its powers to improve marine transport.
MSCL operates ferries, cargo ships and tankers on three of the African Great Lakes, namely Lake Victoria, Lake Tanganyika and Lake Nyasa. Knowing the importance of marine transport to both social and economic growth, MSCL is currently implementing four major projects that upon its completion will lead to improvement of the marine transport sector in the country.
The projects include purchasing new ship that would ply in Lake Victoria waters. The idea sounds brilliant with assurance that all procurement procedures have already been completed and in a short time, the South Korean company, STX will start building the ship at Mwanza port.
The new ship is expected to carry on board 1200 passengers and 400tons of cargo and that would be good news for Lake Victoria travellers who for a long time have been pleading with the government to get a new ship, especially after the fatal accident that involved MV Bukoba in 1996.
Apart from purchasing new ship, the government through MSCL has allocated fund for major rehabilitation of MV Victoria, which was built in 1960, MV Liemba in Lake Tanganyika that was built in 1913 and MV Butiama of 1980.
As preparations for major rehabilitation are set in place, MSCL finalises minor repairs for Mv Clarias, Mv Serengeti, Mv Wimbi and MT Sangara of Kigoma. In this sense, it is obvious the government is setting a platform for improving marine transport.
From economic point of view, marine transport is crucial in the development of the country’s economy, even if some of us may sometimes be unaware of this fact. Basing on the MSCL strategies, one may dare to say it is all smiles as things are going to change in few days from now.
With improvement of marine transport in Lake Victoria, Lake Tanganyika and Lake Nyasa both social and economic activities will be improved since water transport is cheaper in comparison to other forms of transportation.
Also, waterways are ideal ways to move big volumes of cargo. Vessels are built to carry huge amounts of goods and raw materials in comparison with the capacity of airplanes or trucks. Moreover, marine transport is eco-friendly.
As the government strives to set things together, Tanzanians should rally behind the government’s efforts by paying tax, working hard and supporting implementation of development projects to achieve the common goals. United we stand, divided we fall