Tanzania has signed an agreement with China to construct its longest bridge on lake waters in East Africa to facilitate transport and trade with neighbouring countries.
The government inked the contract with two Chinese contractors-the China Civil Engineering Construction Group (CCECG) and China Railway 15th Bureau Group Co Ltd-for execution of the Kigongo-Busisi bridge.
The the bridge plan dates back to 1977 and failed to pick through because donors refused to finance its construction. Geita Regional Commissioner, Robert Gabriel acknowledged that construction of the bridge was a dream of the father of the nation, the late Julius Nyerere.
“For us, this is an economic savior we have been only seeing the project in papers for many years, but now things have become a reality,” said Robert Gabriel.
The 3.2-kilometre bridge on Lake Victoria will connect Kigongo and Busisi areas in Mwanza region. Speaking during the signing ceremony, Works, Transport and Communications Minister Engineer Isack Kamwelwe said the bridge will link Tanzania with neighbouring Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda, accelerating trade and boosting the regional economy.
“This bridge will reduce transport time and facilitate trade among the East African countries. Currently vehicles spend up to three hours to cross to either side of the Lake by using ferry and about 45 minutes to reach the other side,” said Engineer Kamwelwe.
The 180-tonne capacity bridge will allow 1600 vehicles to pass at a time. According to Chief Executive Officer of the Tanzania National Roads Agency (TANROADS), Engineer Patrick Mfugale, the bridge will be connected to a 34-kilometre road, with 28.4 metres wide from Mwanza. This will result to Mwanza city being a commercial hub in the Lake zone.