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Kagera on the move as border region roads to be upgraded

THE government was keen to link all border regions with tarmac roads to hasten people’s development and in the same spirit had allocated a big budget for construction of Busisi bridge and construction of a new steamer to ease transport along Lake Victoria.

Roads are of great importance because they hasten development by enabling people to transport their crops to the markets. Rehabilitation of Ushirombo-Lusahunga- Rusumo road will ease transport snags faced by transporters and people using the road. This will also attract more investors.

Deputy Minister for Works, Transport and Communications, Elias Kwandikwa assured transporters and Lake Zone regions of Mwanza, Geita, Kagera, Mara, Shinyanga, Simiyu and Kigoma residents that the rehabilitation of Ushirombo-Lusahunga- Rusumo road was in progress and would be completed within four months.

The 5th phase government under President John Magufuli was keen to improve the infrastructure like roads and bridges especially along border regions including Kagera Region. This would attract investment opportunities including foreign markets. The roads will also ease transport of people and goods.

He revealed that rehabilitation of Lusahunga-Nyakanazi and Nyakanazi-Rusumo road would cost about 5bn/- adding that negotiations between Tanzania and the African Development Bank (ADB) were in advanced stages to get funds for the reconstruction of the Isaka- Ushirombo, Ushirombo- Lusahunga and Lusahunga- Rusumo road.

The road’s life-span has expired after being in use for almost 34 years. We are in advanced negotiation with the African Development Bank (ADB) to get funds to reconstruct a new road that will endure heavy traffic carrying goods to neighbouring countries–Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

He assured contractors undertaking various public works of the government commitment to pay them on time because the money was available and equally urged people to pay taxes assuring them that the money would be utilized to the maximum to speed up development.

We must change the attitude of depending solely on the central government and donors because the budget was very tight. Regional Manager of the Tanzania National Roads Agency (Tanroads), Engineer Andrea Kasamwa revealed that the region has a total of 7,505 kms roads network.

925 kms equivalent of 48.2 per cent were in good condition, 849.6 kms (about 44.3 per cent) were in average condition while 143.4 kms (about 7.5 per cent) were in poor condition. Some of the completed projects include the 154 kms Mutukula- Kagoma-Lusahunga road, which cost a total of 159.685 bn/-on completion and the 59.1 kms Kyaka-Bugene road which cost a total of 64.961bn/-on completion.

Engineer Kasamwa was very critical with some unruly drivers who vandalize the roads through over loading while others randomly pour oil and petrol along the roads. Deputy Minister Kwandikwa assured people that transport blues that were experienced during the past five to ten years would soon be a matter of history.

Also, government is keen to expand the Bukoba Airport to allow bigger aircrafts to land in Bukoba. The Airport was officially opened by President Magufuli on November 6, last year after completion of rehabilitation and upgrading project.

We are still studying few challenges facing the project, but we have not abandoned the project. Expounding he said the Bukoba Airport is surrounded on western side by residential buildings, churches and several primary schools while on eastern side there is Musira Island. All these factors need special and technical consideration.

After the rehabilitation and expansion project, passengers arriving at the airport increased from 28,000 passengers five years ago to about 230,000 passengers last year. This is a remarkable achievement. Rehabilitation and expansion of the Bukoba Airport will pave the way for efficient cross-border trade and transportation between Tanzania and its East African neighbours.

After the expansion of the current runway larger aircrafts will land at Bukoba Airport and more passengers including foreign tourists will be using the airport. Bukoba Airport Manager, Ms Doris Uhagire revealed that about 93,731 passengers were recorded to have passed through the Bukoba Airport between 2014-2015/16, an annual average of 31,243 transits over the period under review.

About 28,693 passengers were recorded during 2014, with the numbers slightly increasing to 31,914 and 33,124 passengers over the next two years (2015-16). We are confident that more passengers including foreign tourists will be using the airport.

On November 6, last year, President Magufuli shelved the envisaged construction of Omukajunguti Airport in Missenyi District and instead ordered that the 9bn/- compensation budget be used to extend the Bukoba Airport runway. He said the government was keen in extending the Airport from the current 1.5 to two kilometres.

The extension will enable larger aircraft to land at Bukoba Airport…..so spending the 9bn/-on another airport at Omukajunguti isn’t viable. He thanked the World Bank (WB) for a credit facility that would facilitate the rehabilitation of Bukoba Airport, appealing for more funds to finance its extension works.

The Bretton Woods institution had since doled out USD 57.5 million dollars, with the government injecting other USD 11.7m for the project. The works included the airport’s rehabilitation by extending the runway to 1.5 kilometres and relocating Tumaini Primary School, once located within the runway, to Mafumbo area.

In efforts to avert possible risks to the pupils. 31.95bn/-went into rehabilitation works, with 2.6bn/-spent on the school relocation. Currently, there are three airlines using Bukoba Airport regularly, namely Air Tanzania, Precision Air and Oric Air.

Investors both local and foreign are welcome to invest in Kagera Region by constructing medium and large processing industries due to its conducive environment and political tranquility. Kagera was strategically located sharing borders with four countries-Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Kenya across Lake Victoria with a population market of 190 million.

Tanzanians should grab investment opportunities in Great Lakes regions especially in hospitality industry. Traders especially on border regions like Kagera, Geita, Mwanza, Simiyu, Shinyanga, Mara and Kigoma should forge close links and make regular visits in neighbouring countries.

The private sector through Tanzania Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (TCCIA), should forge links with their counterparts in Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), TCCIA in Kagera region was also organizing a business trip to five neighbouring countries.

Kagera Regional Commissioner (RC), Brig Gen Marco Gaguti tasked the Tanzania Rural and Urban Roads Agency (TARURA), to hasten completion of border roads for security purposes. Border roads are of paramount importance.

Security issues include illegal immigrants, smuggling of crops and goods and invasion of thousands of unvaccinated livestock. While neighbouring countries have border roads Tanzania lacks the facility. Kagera region borders four neighbouring East African (EAC) countries-Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya across Lake Victoria.

Trade and Industries Minister, Mr Innocent Bashunga, who is also Legislator for Karagwe (CCM) disclosed that about 40 per cent of post harvest farmers’ crops was lost every year due to poor roads also appealed to residents in Kagera Region to maintain the roads infrastructure which cost millions of shillings.

Kagera Regional Commissioner (RC). Brig Gen Marco Gaguti tasked the Tanzania Rural and Urban Roads Agency (TARURA), to hasten completion of border roads for security purposes. Border roads are of paramount importance.

Security issues include illegal immigrants, smuggling of crops and goods and invasion of thousands of unvaccinated livestock. While neighbouring countries have border roads Tanzania lacks the facility. TARURA Regional Manager, Engineer Avith Theodory, revealed that several border roads had already been earmarked and a budget had been set aside for that purpose.

Mr Bashungwa was confident that once the roads projects are completed, it will enhance socio-economic growth, reinforce regional cooperation, partnership and peace within the East African region.

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Author: MEDDY MULISA in Bukoba

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