Sumbawanga — Residents mostly farmers in Katavi and Rukwa regions have praised President Jakaya Kikwete for fulfilling promises he made during 2010 General Election as now major road projects worth billions of shillings are currently under construction.
According to local residents here, upon completion the roads networks will open up local farmers to markets across borders of Malawi, Zambia and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Currently six international contractors have been contracted to rehabilitate major roads covering more than 650 kilometers into tarmac level.
These are; Tunduma Laela Sumbawanga (228.40 km). At the cost of 97 US dollars the project is being supported by US gov- ernment through its Millennium Challenge Cooperation (MCC). Others are; Sumbawanga -Namanyere -Mpanda /Kizi-Kibaoni (274 km) of which the section of Sumbawanga-Kanazi (75 km) at the cost of 78.8 bn/-, Kanazi-Kizi-Kibaoni (76.6 km) at the cost of over 82.84 bn/- and Sumbawanga-Matai- Kasanga Port (112km) at the cost of 133.3 bn/-.
The three projects are fully funded by the US government. A cross-section of residents from both Katavi and Rukwa regions interviewed by the 'Sunday News' recently have expressed optimistic that upon completion the major roads would open up the regions to DRC, Burundi and Zambia markets.
"Surely the major roads will also influence big companies from other regions as far as in Dar es Salaam to drive straight to both regions for agricultural produce. Katavi and Rukwa regions are famous for maize and rice cultivation respectively," notes one John Simwela a farmer from Mpanda District in Katavi region.
Similar sentiments were echoed by farmers from Sumbawanga, Kalambo and Nkasi Districts in Rukwa region who have showed delight as they witness more roads being rehabilitated or new roads under construction. "The Tunduma-Laela- Sumbawanga road has been a big headache to us for a long time, but possibly within a year it will be done and hindrance to transportation will be historical," said Mariam Swedi a petty business woman in Sumbawanga.
Lake Rukwa Basin in Sumbawanga District is famous for rice production which is supplied to Mbeya and Tabora regions. Farmers such as Embassy Mwigulu from Milepa village along the Basin of Lake Rukwa in Sumbawanga District who harvested 500 bags of rice last season was also optimistic they would benefit from completion of the road constructions.
Rukwa Tanroads Manager, Engineer Florian Kabaka told the 'Sunday News' recently that the government has spent more than 8.4bn/- on rehabilitation of 263.7 kilometres of regional roads under the Performance Based Management and Maintenance of Roads (PMMR).