The government of Tanzania has signed a US $265m contract with two Chinese contractors for the construction of a 3.2km long bridge on Lake Victoria, to facilitate trade among countries in the East African region.
China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) and the China Railway 15th Bureau will build a link over the Gulf of Mwanza, a 30km-long inlet in the southern shore of the lake between the settlements of Kigongo and Busisi.
The bridge will connect Kigongo and Busisi areas in Mwanza region, and help to link Tanzania to Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi via road. The aim is to replace the Mwanza ferry and improve communications between the commercial hub of Mwanza City in northern Tanzania and the lake states of Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda.
According to the Chief Executive of the Tanzania Roads Agency Patrick Mfugale, the bridge will reduce transport time hence improving trade among countries in the region. Currently, vehicles take about three hours to cross to either side of the lake via a ferry; two hours in a queue to get onto the ferry and another hour to get to the other side.
Reviving trade on Lake Victoria
The government, through the Marine Service Company Ltd and Uganda Railway Corporation, has also set up a one-stop centre for the smooth haulage of cargo and passengers. Tanzania’s Minister of Works Transport and Communication Isaac Kamwelwe said that cargo lorries arriving at Mwanza from the Dar es Salaam port will go directly to the freight ship destined for Uganda via Port Bell without being offloaded.
Efforts by Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to revive trade and transport on Lake Victoria received a boost in November last year when Presidents John Magufuli and Yoweri Museveni signed a landmark deal. Charles Kateeba, Executive Director of the Uganda Railways Corporation, the body that runs the port, said in a statement that Uganda’s Mv Kaawa and Tanzania’s Mv Umoja currently travel to Mwanza port via Port Bell.