THE Secretariat of the East African Community (EAC) has approved 53tr/- for implementation of the region's largest ever economic project to construct a deep-sea free port at Mwambani in Tanga Region and a new heavy haul standard gauge railway.
In an interview with the 'Daily News' in Dar es Salaam, a co-Director of the project, Mr Cuthbert Tenga, said the Mwambani Economic Corridor would link the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean from Tanzania, through Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
He said top officials of the MWAPORC, an acronym for Mwambani Port and Railway Corridor, a Tanzanian Project Company, met with the EAC Secretariat in Arusha on March 8, this year, to present details of the modern, efficient and cost effective transport logistics corridor project.
Mr Tenga said that the EAC Secretary General, Dr Richard Sezibera, chaired the twohour meeting. The Deputy Secretary (Planning and Infrastructure), Dr Enos Bukuku, an expert from Japan on infrastructure (rail and port) and several directors and others experts from EAC also attended the meeting.
"We made the presentation to introduce the project to the EAC on infrastructure to get its support and approval so that it is integrated in the East African Community infrastructure master plan," said Dr Bukuku. The DS added that, "Our duty was to show that it does not compete against any planned railway project in EAC.
It is, however, intended to supplement the existing and planned ones, taking into consideration the enormous economic growth rate in East and Central Africa." Under the EAC Treaty, Mr Tenga said, cross-border projects need to be coordinated by the EAC Department of infrastructure, created specifically for that purpose.
After the presentation, the EAC Secretariat resolved that the "Mwambani Economic Corridor Project is a major regional infrastructure project that has the potential of fundamentally transforming the economies of east-central Africa." It said the EAC shall therefore support the project company, MWAPORC, to implement it in all ways possible.
The secretary general remarked that the implementation of the project would be a "game changer" for the entire region. The Secretariat appointed Dr Bukuku focal person for the EAC to coordinate with the company and the EAC shall invite MWAPORC to inform select committees working on legislation to make implementation of cross border infrastructure and related projects efficient.
"MWARPOC shall submit detailed project information to the EAC focal person to enable the EACT to officially adopt the Mwambani Economic Corridor designed by MWAPORC into the EAC Railway and Infrastructure Master Plan," one of the Secretariat's resolution reads.
MWARPOC further decided to facilitate meetings between the Head of States of Rwanda, Kenya and Burundi. It will also enable the company to present the project and seek ways of harmonizing related railway and port projects.
During the implementation of the project, Mr Tenga said, the development of a hub-port and free port and a heavy haul railway linking Tanzania to the rich markets of east-central Africa, shall result in immense social-economic prosperity for Tanzania.
According to him, "Tanzania shall enjoy a major economic boom because new railway, port and free port investments stimulate agrodevelopment, real estate, and manufacturing, creating thousands of new jobs and careers." He said that the new deep seaport shall be designed to have the ability to make Tanzania a direct hub port, enabling direct s hipping from international ports and significantly reducing the cost of logistics to exporters and importers.