Mara — THE construction of the much-awaited Makutano Juu- Mto Wa Mbu highway in Mara Region is expected to begin any time from now, the Tanzania National Roads Agency (Tanroads) has said.
The construction of the highway constitutes implementation of a promise made to Mara residents, especially those who reside in Serengeti District, by President Jakaya Kikwete a few years ago. Implementation of the project will kick off with 50 kilometres running from Makutano Juu-Sanzate, which borders some rural villages of Bunda and Serengeti districts in the Lake Zone Region.
The next phase, of the project, will involve Sanzate - Natta- Mugumu road covering around 74 km, according to Mara Regional Tanroads Manager, Engineer Emmanuel Korosso. Tanroads is now holding crucial talks with the contractor as part of final stages, ahead of the commencement of the project.
"After discussions with the contractor, construction work will begin immediately," Eng Korosso told the 'Daily News' over the weekend, adding, "The road will be constructed in phases and the next tender will cover Sanzate - Natta followed by Natta- Mugumu town." Mara is one of the top Tanzanian mainland regions rated to have the best road work and construction of the new highway will significantly boost further development, of road transport sector in the area.
Construction of the Makutano- Mto Wa Ambu highway is meant to link Mara and Arusha regions through the world's famous Serengeti National Park (SENAPA). The government of Tanzania says execution of the project will skip 53km, cutting across SENAPA, in order to avoid any damage to the park's ecology.
Serengeti district leaders, ordinary people and local leaders have welcomed the construction of the road to tarmac level, predicting that it will play a significant role to speed up social and economic development in the area. Tanroads in Mara Region is responsible of maintaining regional and trunk roads covering 1274.9 kilometres, of which 104.6km are in the world heritage site of Serengeti National Park.
The region has about 254 bridges on its regional and trunk roads. Eng Korosso also said that Tanroads has also started making major rehabilitation on Makutano- Sirari Highway in a bid to increase the life span of the 85km road that links Lake Zone regions with the neighbouring East African countries.
"It is our responsibility to take care of road infrastructure and rehabilitation of Makutano- Sirari highway is underway phase by phase. The rehabilitation is meant to strengthen the road's durability," Eng Korosso said. Official records available indicate that the amount of money being sent by the government for development of road network in Mara Region has been increasing every year.
For example, the government pumped 11.3bn/- for improvement of road network taken care by Tanroads in the region during 2011/2012 and about 14bn/- is to be spent during 2012/2013 on similar work, according to officials. Improvement of regional roads such as Tarime-Mugumu highway has greatly helped to contribute for the development of the booming tourism sector in western Serengeti corridors, according to stakeholders within the industry.
The number of tourists entering the country via the Tanzanian/Kenyan border and using the Tarime-Mugumu Road, when visiting western Serengeti, is said to have significantly increased in recent years. A few months ago members of the Mara Regional Road Board Meeting expressed satisfaction on the performance of the road sector in the region, citing increased funds and efficiency being demonstrated by regional Tanroads office under the leadership of Eng. Korosso.
Mara Regional Commissioner (RC) John Tupa said they have every reason to thank President Kikwete's government for continued efforts meant to improve road network in the region. Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda made a working tour in all districts of Mara Region in 2011 and expressed satisfaction on the performance of the road sector in the area.