THE government has unveiled an ambitious plan to expand the existing railway, air and port networks. This will include boosting their infrastructure.
Presenting a report to the on-going CCM National Congress in Dodoma, the Deputy Minister for Transport Dr Charles Tizeba said the government has embarked on several major projects to improve the sector, which is vital for economic development. He mentioned some of the projects as renovation of 20 airports on the mainland, including the expansion of the Mugumu Airport to facilitate easy movement of tourists wishing to visit the Serengeti National Park and other attractions in the ecosystem.
"We have secured funds for the project and from April next year, the airport will begin to undergo massive reconstruction, which will ultimately make it an international airport," he said. He mentioned other airports undergoing major facelifts as the Mwanza Airport and Dar es Salaam International Airport, where plans are being finalised for the construction of Terminal III.
According to Dr Tizeba, Mwanza Airport was also undergoing major facelift by expanding it to 500 metres. All the works were proceeding smoothly, he added. Tabora, Mpanda and Sumbawanga airports are also undergoing major rehabilitation by adding 3,100 metres more for Tabora Airport while 1,800 metres more have been added to the Kigoma Airport to reach a total of 3,100 upon completion.
The deputy minister also announced that the construction process for the Msalato International Airport in Dodoma was on the right track as the government continues to solicit funds to upgrade and develop it through Private Public Partnership (PPP) arrangements. Dr Tizeba took the opportunity to confirm the inauguration of Songwe International Airport in Mbeya in December, this year and that four airline operators have already shown interest to use it.
At this juncture, CCM National Chairman President Jakaya Kikwete chipped in, saying that some international airlines have expressed interest to use the airport for their routes in Southern African countries, while investors in horticulture will also use the facility to export their products. "We are now lining up horticulture as one of the key economic ventures," Kikwete said.
The deputy minister said his ministry has held discussions with the Ministry of Works to explore the possibility of allocating some roadside areas where airlines can make emergence landings. He also briefed delegates on the development of the commuter train services in Dar es Salaam, saying the arrangement was proving popular. He hinted on plans to enhance their capacity to serve more passengers in the near future.
Movement of passengers to the city centre will also include ferrying passengers in Bagamoyo District in Coast Region to Dar es Salaam where a ship will be procured for that matter. On the upcountry rail transportation, the deputy minister said plans are underway to improve services in the central railway line through procurement and rehabilitation of 300 new coaches, 22 wagons and 13 engines this year, to effect resumption of full services along the line next year.
Other plans include rehabilitating the existing railway line for heavy duty operations with the improvement of the existing gauges.On the ports, Dr Tizeba said plans are underway for the construction of five ports within Lake Tanganyika and three ports in Lake Nyasa, while the Tanga Port will be supported by the envisaged Mwambani Port, currently under construction.
The construction of berths number 13 and 14 at the Dar es Salaam Port is also going on as plans are afoot for the construction of Bagamoyo Port to reinforce operations at the Dar es Salaam Port, he said.