PRESIDENT Jakaya Kikwete kicked off his seven-day official tour of Morogoro Region on Wednesday by laying the foundation stone for the construction of the much-hyped 56bn/- Kilombero Bridge project as well as launching a mega rural electric power distribution project.
The bridge will help connect and ease transportation networks between Ulanga and Kilombero districts in the region. The project, which is being implemented by a Chinese firm, China Railway 15, will consist of two bridges with the length of 384 and 120 metres respectively and 35 culverts.
It will be able to accommodate 180 tonnes and also go concurrently with the construction of 9.5 kilometres road in tarmac level. For the first time in the country'shistory on Wednesday evening, the presidential motorcade, involving 20 vehicles, crossed the Kilombero River through a transient steel bridge put up to facilitate construction activities.
The temporary bridge is said to have the capacity of accommodating up to 100 tonnes. Kilombero Bridge construction wraps up a plan that was embarked on in 1967/68 in the First National Development Plan to work on five major bridges in the country.
However, the plan remained unimplemented for 47 years since when it was put on board. Briefing the president on the project, Tanzania Roads Agency (TANROADS) Chief Executive Officer Patrick Mfugale said the work was delayed due to heavy rains that swept away a temporary bridge that was put up to ease the activity.
He, however, affirmed that the newly-erected bridge was able to stand firm even for over 100 years thus giving assurance for the timely implementation of the project.
Addressing the residents after laying the foundation stone for the project, President Kikwete pointed out that in the First National Development Plan diagrammed in 1967/68, five major bridges that were prioritised included Kirumi in Mara, Rufiji, Kigamboni, Kilombero and Malagarasi.
He said two bridges -- Kirumi in Mara and Rufiji -- were constructed in the first and third phases of government respectively while the remaining three have been done during his tenure.
"We decided to construct the three major bridges -- Kigamboni, Malagarasi and Kilombero. Malagarasi is over, Kigamboni will be over by June next year and today we have laid the foundation stone for Kilombero Bridge," he quipped. Mr Kikwete also inaugurated telemedicine services at Mwaya Health Centre in Ulanga District.
Briefing the president on telemedicine services at the centre, Morogoro Regional Medical Officer Dr Godfrey Mtei said the technology has remarkably contributed towards serving lives of delivering mothers.
He observed that since 2010, about 13,600 women delivered at the three health centres, which have applied telemedicine technology namely Mwaya, Mtimbira and Mlimba. Dr Mtei added that 1,360 women gave birth through operation while only nine deaths occurred during the entire period.
He explained that the telemedicine project in the region is jointly implemented by the government and a non-governmental organization --World Lung Foundation.
President Kikwete also inaugurated hostels for schoolgirls at Nawenge Secondary School and received 100 desks for Epanko Primary School.