THE newly-completed Ndumbi Port is set to increase the annual capacity of Lake Nyasa ports from the current 76,000 to 110,000 tonnes equivalent to 44.7 per cent increase.
The new port terminal located in the Nyasa District of Ruvuma Region will also increase the passenger handling capacity from 76,000 to 126,000, which is equivalent to 67.8 per cent rise, says Acting Manager for Lake Nyasa Ports, Mr Manga Gassaya.
“The completion of the Ndumbi Port project is one of the major achievements recorded in the ports industry during President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s two years in office,” says Mr Gassaya
Ndumbi port now boasts modern infrastructure capable of handling passenger flows, bulk cargo and containers, adds Mr Gassaya.
“On behalf of the TPA Director General, Plasduce Mbossa, let me express our sincere gratitude to our President Dr Samia for the massive investment in the port sector,” he says.
The government through the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) implemented the project at the cost of 12.2bn/- as part of efforts to spur economic development in the Southern Highlands regions and to facilitate trade with the neighbouring countries of Malawi and Mozambique.
The project included the construction of a 160-metre berth and a 20.4-metre jetty head, a ramp head with 40 metres length and 10 metres width, and a 1,020-square metre shed, a 9,030-metre heavy duty pavement, a passenger lounge with the capacity to handle 70,000 passengers annually. The project also included the construction of an office building and residential houses for TPA staff.
The new Ndumbi Port whose construction was completed in December, last year happens to be a very important fork point, strategically aimed to save the transportation of coal to Kiwira Port and Malawian ports like Monkey Bay and Chipoka.
“This is another big project to be implemented by our government on Lake Nyasa,” insists Mr Gassaya while expressing optimism that the new terminal will spur economic development of Ruvuma and other neighbouring regions.
According to him, plans are also in place to renovate and upgrade other ports on Lake Nyasa including Kiwira, Matema, Lupingu, Manda, Liuli and Mbamba Bay, noting that the TPA has finalised a feasibility study for the projects and submitted it to the government.
Residents in Nyasa District are equally delighted at the completion of the Port project, saying it will open economic opportunities in Ruvuma Region and facilitate trade with Malawi and Mozambique.
But they pleaded with the government to initiate talks with the Malawi government to allow Tanzania’s vessels to call at Malawi ports.
“We have modern ships that ply Lake Nyasa but currently they don’t go to Malawi, this acts as a barrier to trade between people from the two countries, we’re appealing to the government to try and resolve this issue,” Japheth Haule, a maize dealer in Nyasa District said.
Why developing small ports crucial
The government through the TPA has continued to invest in the construction of essential small port infrastructures on Lake Nyasa to improve the terminals’ performance and accelerate economic growth among local communities.
According to the TPA’s Manager in charge of Lake Nyasa ports, the sixth phase government under President Samia Suluhu Hassan has allocated 1.1bn/- in the current financial year for the ports’ upgrading.
“Among the projects that will be implemented through the funds is the construction of a passenger lounge at Matema Port and landing ramps at Manda, Lupingu and Liuli ports,” he says.
“TPA’s plan is to ensure that all small ports have key infrastructure and facilities for passengers and cargo handling and we’re grateful to President Samia and the sixth phase government for continuously allocating and releasing funds for the improvement and development of our ports across the country,” says Mr Gassaya.
“Our objective is to meet the expectations of the government and those of our customers and stakeholders by enhancing performance and efficiency at our terminals,” he adds.
Mr Gassaya says small ports play a vital role in the lives of people along Lake Nyasa and beyond, noting that the ports serve as a key link in the local supply chains rural dwellers rely on.
According to Mr Gassaya, inland ports are significant to the country as they promote commercial welfare and trade among local people and promote interactions with neighbouring nations and insists that more efforts will be placed on upgrading them and soliciting markets in and outside the country to ensure they operate effectively.
Liuli, Manda and Lupingu are among a host of smaller TPA ports on the lake that facilitate passenger and cargo movement along the lake and between Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique.
Commenting on the government’s efforts to improve water transportation, a Njombe resident, Seifi Rashid maintaining all ports in modern, safe condition should rank high on everyone’s priority list.
He urges the government to initiate talks with the Malawian government to establish ship routes to Malawi and Mozambique so that Tanzanians traders and farmers can tap into the foreign markets.
“We produce enough food and other agricultural products and it is important that we have access to foreign markets to sell our products there, that will promote economic development both at individual and national level,” he insists.
Peter Kijavo, a fisherman, says the small ports are crucial for fishermen since they serve as landing areas and trading centres, and calls on the government to set up essential facilities to attract more people to use the terminals.