Mbinga — ALTHOUGH Tanzanians enjoy the lowest electricity tariffs in East Africa, the government remains committed to further reduction to facilitate wider access to reliable energy for the majority of the people.
"In Tanzania, a unit of electricity is sold at 16.8 US cents while the same is sold for 18 and 18.5 US cents in Kenya and Uganda, respectively. Rwanda charges 23 US cents," Energy and Minerals Minister Sospeter Muhongo told a public rally addressed by President Jakaya Kikwete here over the weekend.
Speaking on the same subject, President Kikwete assured the residents that the government was working hard to chart strategies that will further reduce power charges.
At present, Tanzania generates electricity from hydro-power, diesel-powered generators and gas-fired plants. However, hydro- power remains unreliable while diesel plants are costly to operate.
Energy experts are also hopeful that the country would drastically reduce generation costs when it shifts to natural gas in large extent after completion of the 542-km gas pipeline from Mtwara to Dar es Salaam.
President Kikwete and Prof Muhongo were speaking during the inauguration of a modern bus stand at Mbinga Township and a new tarmac road connecting Mbinga and Songea.
The bus stand, which has 112 business stalls for entrepreneurs, has been constructed at a cost of 2.17bn/- through a loan obtained from the Local Governments' Loans Board (LGLB).
The 78-kilometre Songea- Mbinga Road was constructed for 64bn/- provided by the Millennium Challenge Account Tanzania (MCA-T), a subsidiary of United States' Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).
Given the hilly terrain in which the road passes through, implementation of the project took 39 months as opposed to 27 months that were anticipated at the beginning of the project. It was completed on January 7.
During the tour of the region, President Kikwete also inaugurated Mbinga Girls' Secondary School in Kingonsera ward. The school was established this year with 60 students. It uses buildings that were left behind by contractors who were constructing the Songea-Mbinga Road.
Meanwhile, the government is about to complete construction of the 823- kilometre Mtwara Corridor Highway from Mtwara town to Mbamba Bay in Ruvuma Region, the president was told yesterday. The government has declared its intention to construct the remaining 66 kilometres from Mbinga to Mbamba Bay to complete all the roads under the Mtwara Corridor project.
The Minister for Works, Dr John Magufuli, speaking at a well attended public rally addressed by President Kikwete, who is on a six-day tour of the region, said the government is highly committed to accomplish the multi-billion shilling project. Dr Magufuli said the other stretches of the 832-kilometre road are either complete or have their construction works on progress.
The completed stretches are Mbinga-Songea with 78 kilometres, Songea-Namtumbo (71 kms) and Mangaka-Masasi and Masasi- Mtwara whose aging tarmac has been replaced.
The stretches whose construction work is going on are Namtumbo-Matemanga that measures 128 kilometres and Matemanga- Tunduru of (195 kms). Dr Magufuli said the construction of the road is part of the government's resolve to expedite development in the area.