Mbeya — Minister for Works, Transport and Communications Isack Kamwelwe has urged members of the business community here to ensure that the two newly-built ships increase the volume of merchandise that they transport to neighbouring countries.
Recently, the government commissioned two cargo and passenger ships that ply the Lake Nyasa waters. The ships - MV Njombe and MV Ruvuma - were built by the Mbeya-based MS Songoro Marine Transport Ltd at a total cost of Sh20 billion. They have the capacity of hauling 1,000 tonnes of cargo apiece. The government is also building one more passenger ship that will have the capacity of ferrying 200 passengers and 200 tonnes of cargo.
Mr Kamwele inspected the ship, which is under construction at Itungi Port and the already commissioned ships, which were at Kiwira Port.
"We now have the ships. They are only waiting for your cargo. By using the ships, you will be able to transport your cargo at more affordable rates compared to using roads. With these ships, there is no reason of transporting cargo by road to Malawi anymore," said Mr Kamwelwe.
Earlier, the Itungi port manager, Mr Galus Abeid, told Mr Kamwelwe that members of the business community were slow in capitalising on the availability of the ships to increase the volume of goods transported to various areas surrounding the lake, including Malawi.
The Kyela District Commissioner, Ms Claudia Kitta, said the government was doing everything possible to ensure that businessmen were aware of the ships significance in transportation of cargo between Tanzania and Malawi. "This is also why we will be holding a Tanzania-Malawi Business Forum, which is planned for Mbeya later this month," he added. The forum creates a platform for members of the business community in both Tanzania and Malawi to come together and see what they can trade among each other.
Tanzania-Malawi Business Forum will be held under the theme "Strengthening Bilateral Trade and Investment Relations."