Namtumbo — CONSTRUCTION of a railway line to connect Mtwara Port in Mtwara Region and Mbamba Bay in Ruvuma Region to ease haulage of heavy cargo along the Mtwara Corridor in southern Tanzania is in the offing, President Jakaya Kikwete has announced.
Addressing a mammoth crowd at a public rally, the president said the government has found it ideal to construct the railway network to unlock the corridor to the rest of the country and the world.
"In our plans, there will come a time when we will be transporting one million tonnes of iron ore from Liganga and the same amount of coal from Mchuchuma Coal Mine in Iringa region in addition to one million tonnes of coal from Ngaka in Ruvuma Region.
"It is important that we put up the railway; we cannot transport such bulk cargo on our roads lest we destroy them despite heavy investments in their construction.
The railway line would also unlock investment opportunities in the region," Mr Kikwete, who is on a six-day tour of Ruvuma Region, pointed out.
In another development, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has pledged to finance construction of a tarmac road between Mbamba Bay and Mbinga.
The AfDB's Country Representative, Mr Tonia Kandiero, said the bank is ready to finance construction of the road to ensure that the entire 823km-road along the Mtwara Corridor is paved.
During his visit in the region, Mr Kikwete, among others, inaugurated a 71.4-km tarmac road between Namtumbo and Songea, whose construction was funded by the government of the United States through the Millennium Challenge Account-Tanzania (MCA-T) at a cost of 180bn/-.
At a ceremony held at Migelegele village, five kimemetres from Namtumbo Township, the president also laid a foundation stone for construction of 128.9-km tarmac road that will connect Namtumbo and Matemanga areas in the region. The road in question is part of the Songea-Tunduru main road.
It is funded jointly by AfDB, Japan through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the government of Tanzania. AfDB will foot 63.23 per cent of the cost while JICA and Tanzania would provide 23 and 13.65 per cent of the funds, respectively. Construction work is already underway.
President Kikwete showered praise on AfDB, the US and Japan for their support in the construction of the roads, which are vital for the development of Tanzania and Africa as a whole.
Mr Kikwete was also thankful of the US for providing Tanzania with 698 million US dollars (about 1.116trillion/-) through the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), which he described as the largest funding sum ever availed by Washington to any country in the world.
It is through such support that Tanzania is implementing construction of roads between Tunduma and Sumbawanga, Tanga and Horohoro, Namtumbo and Mbinga as well as construction of roads on Pemba Island.
The MCC Country Representative, Mr Karl Fickenscher, said his country is pleased with its cooperation programme with Tanzania in implementing MCC projects.
Meanwhile, President Kikwete has expressed his shock over the high rate of school drop-outs in primary and secondary schools in Ruvuma Region, which are partly contributed by early-pregnancies among female students.
Available statistics indicate that some 155 girls in the region failed to complete primary and secondary education during the past 18 months due to early pregnancies.