IN the end this may go down as the largest crowd in the ongoing presidential campaign rallies. The ruling CCM’s first campaign rally in the 'vote-rich' region attracted a mammoth crowd of enthusiastic party members and supporters.
The rally at Mwanza's CCM Kirumba Stadium saw hundreds of thousands energetic supporters packing one of the country’s largest football stadia to brim, producing a political spectacle the likes of which the Lake Zone biggest city hadn't seen in recent years.
The whole of Mwanza City was buzzing with pomp as all streets were turned to green and yellow a day before the due date.
People started flocking the stadium as early as 6am by different means – on foot, 'bodabooda', buses and cars. By around 8am, the place was a sea of green and yellow, the party's official colours.
The massive crowd, however, had to wait for some hours as the weather also became supportive to the situation. The clouds and light drops of rain graced the day before CCM Presidential candidate, Dr John Magufuli arrived at the stadium.
The 35,000-seat stadium was full to its capacity, posing a big challenge to security officers, who experienced hard time to control people passionately struggling for a closer glimpse of Dr Magufuli.
In his speech, the incumbent President assured Mwanza residents that the government plan is to make the region an economic hub for Great Lakes countries and that his government will continue setting required infrastructure to support the move.
He said in fulfilling the promise, the current government has managed to renovate vessels and start construction of new ones, which in one way or another, will help to speed up economic growth in the region and in particular, Tanzania.
According to Dr Magufuli, his government’s plan is to make sure MV Mwanza and MV Victoria ply Mwanza-Bukoba-Musoma routes as well as Kisumu (Kenya) and Jinja (Uganda).
“Through these routes, Mwanza will receive big traders and investors, this means this city will become a home to big businesses,” he noted.
He added that the renovation of vessels and construction of new ones has so far boosted the economic activities in the area, citing an example from the revival of MV Victoria, which is now operating on Mwanza-Bukoba route.
“Before the revival of MV Victoria, which was grounded for a long time, one tonne of cargo was transported by using trucks at 130,000/- but now the same quantity is transported at 27,000/- only on MV Victoria. This means a lot to business in this region,” he said.
Dr Magufuli also informed the residents that in the past five years, there have been notable achievements in the industrial sector with the construction of new industries, including the establishment of a mineral smelting plant in the region.
“We now have mineral markets in various areas across the country, this helps our people to do business easily and safely,” said Dr Magufuli.
He added that the government is also continuing with its efforts to strengthen Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL) and improve the aviation sector in general. He said a number of airports have been built, expanded and renovated.
The Mwanza Airport has been expanded from 2.8km to 3.5kilometres, he told wananchi.
“As we speak, Mwanza Airport can now accommodate big flights from different parts of the World, that is why we are now engaged in big international businesses,” he noted.
Dr Magufuli said so far, a total of 109,000 tonnes of fish bowls have been transported from Mwanza to abroad through the airport.
“Today, fishermen and other dealers can testify how the revival of ATCL and expansion of airports is crucial to this country’s economy. We are looking forward to strengthening all these infrastructures for the strong economic growth,” said Dr Magufuli.
On land related issues, Dr Magufuli assured Mwanza residents that their residential areas will be formalised regardless of whether their buildings are situated on tops of hills.
“There must be no one to move you from there, we will formalise your areas and supply you with water and other crucial services,” he noted.
He added that in the past five years, his government has improved education, water, electricity and health services in the region.
On education he said a total of 53.7bn/- had been spent on free education, while 92bn/- had been used in water projects.
In the health sector, Dr Magufuli said 11.4bn/- had been allocated and used for improving various services at Bugando referral hospital and 11.1bn/- was used at Sekou Toure hospital. Also 13bn/- had been spent on construction of hospitals, health centres and dispensaries in the region.
On electricity, Dr Magufuli said there had been an increase of electricity generation in the region from 144MW of 2015 to 180MW in 2020. However, he said the region needs only 53MW.
On infrastructure, Dr Magufuli said the government had implemented various projects including construction of roads such as Usagara-Kisesa road (17km) at 20.1bn/-, Nyakato-Buswelo, Makongoro-Mwaloni, expansion of Airport road, construction of Furahisha pedestrian bridge and Nyegezi Bus stand.
He said the government is going on with the construction of Standard Gauge railway (SGR) while renovating the narrow at the same time.