PRIME Minister, Mr Kassim Majaliwa has reiterated the fifth-phase government's determination to open up the Lake Tanganyika Zone as an economic hub, by expanding and building four ports in Rukwa and Katavi regions at the cost of over 65.3bn/-.
The premier stressed that the expansion and construction of new posts in the Lake Tanganyika Zone will stimulate movement of goods, services and people between Tanzania and three neighbouring countries.
"The projects, upon completion will open up this zone as an important economic gateway and boost trade between Tanzania and three neighbouring countries -- Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Zambia and Burundi," said Mr Majaliwa.
Mr Majaliwa made the remarks on Sunday evening, while addressing public rallies at both Kabwe Ward in Nkasi District Rukwa Region, where he officially inaugurated the terminal at Lake Tanganyika as well as laying foundation stone at Kasanga Port in Kalambo District, Rukwa Region which is undergoing expansion at the cost of 4.7bn/-.
The Prime Minister said that the expansion of Kasanga Port was crucial because it will ease transportation of goods and people straight to DRC as opposed to the current situation, where they have to take longer routes, passing through other countries.
"Upon completion, this project will help improve the per capita income of people in this area and the country at large," he said.
"President John Magufuli is determined to improve the livelihood of all citizens including people of Kalambo District and that is why he has approved this project, which provides employment opportunities for people in this district," the PM added.
Equally, Mr Majaliwa revealed that the government is planning to carry out major rehabilitation on the oldest ship on Lake Tanganyika, MV Liemba. The vessel had been plying on Lake Tanganyika for more than 100 years.
He also said that the government will build MV Sangara and a big ship with the capacity to accommodate 5,000 tonnes.
The three marine vessels will ply on Lake Tanganyika, ferrying cargo and passengers to and from Zambia, DRC and Burundi.
To signify that this zone will transform into an economic zone, new dry ports will be built in Rukwa and Katavi regions at Karema, Kabwe, and Kasanga ports as well as in Mpanda Town, which will handle cargo destined to neighbouring DRC, Zambia, Rwanda and Burundi.
"The Karema Port whose construction will cost 47.92bn/- is expected to be completed next year and it will be the major zonal terminal, which will be reachable by railway from Mpanda Town and connected to Tanga and Dar es Salaam ports," added the premier.
He further explained that the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) has finished construction of Kabwe Port at the cost of 7.49bn/-, where big ships would be able to dock at the terminal. Currently only engine -powered boats travel to the precinct.
He further said that the construction of Kipili Port in Nkasi District in Rukwa Region will cost 5bn/-, while the expansion of Kasanga Port, the second largest terminal in Lake Tanganyika after Kigoma terminal is estimated to cost over 4.764bn/-. The TPA is implementing the projects at the total cost of over 65.3bn/-
While addressing a public rally at Kasanga Ward, Mr Majaliwa said the government is poised to reap huge profit from the terminal which is currently undergoing expansion following the construction of a strategic 122 kms stretch of road linking Tunduma- Sumbawanga and Mpanda Highway.
Mr Majaliwa was on a two-day working tour of Katavi and Rukwa regions respectively, which he concluded yesterday.
Earlier, the Minister for Works, Transport and, Communication, Eng Isack Kamwelwe assured residents of Rukwa region that the preparations for the construction of 55bn/- Sumbawanga airport have reached a good stage and that soon the construction will kick off.
He said the airport is designed to meet international standards upon completion of its construction.
"The government has already released 34bn/- for compensating wananchi who are required to relocate from the selected area so as to pave the way for construction," he noted.
The airport project is designed to involve the construction of runways and its aprons at tarmac level, parking area, surveillance radar, car parking, passengers' lounge and a fence.