By Halili Letea; tz.nationmedia.com
Dar es Salaam. President John Magufuli yesterday laid the foundation stone for construction of the Sh258.3 billion ($112.8 million), New Selander Bridge that together with connecting roads will measure 6.23 kilometres. The bridge and the connecting roads to the bridge were set to be completed in 30 months from October 2018 and will be constructed by GS Contractors Ltd from Korea. The whole project will be funded by EOCF and Korea Exim Bank from the Republic of Korea at a cost of Sh208.46 billion ($112.8 million) in association with the Tanzanian government, which will avail Sh49.45 billion ($21.82 million) for the project.
Speaking during the occasion, Dr Magufuli said construction of the bridge and the connecting roads will reduce traffic jams significantly, save time and increase government revenues.
“The project will help to save more than Sh400 billion that is lost every year as a result of traffic jams,” he told guests at the function. The President also called on GS Contractors Ltd to finish the project on time, or even bring it to a close before schedule, saying all the requirements for its accomplishment were in place. The Head of State urged the Korean Ambassador in the country, Mr Cho Tae-Ick, to give it close supervision. “I believe that under your supervision the project will be finished on time,” he said.
The chief executive officer of the Tanzania National Roads Agency (Tanroads), Mr Patrick Mfugale, said the bridge will measure 1.03 kilometres, the longest over water in East Africa, while connecting roads will cover a distance of 5.2 kilometres. “The connecting road from the bridge through Tule to Coco beach will cover 2.4 kilometres, Barack Obama Avenue to Ocean Road (1.2 kilometres) and other roads from Aga Khan Hospital to Ali Hassan Mwinyi road will cover the rest,” he said, giving assurance that all the surrounding buildings where the project will take place will not be affected.
For his part, Works, Transport and Communications minister Isack Kamwelwe said the government was working to ensure good infrastructure was in place to spur development as well as improve revenue.
According to him, the transport sector contributed 15 per cent to the country’s GDP last year. He said, however, that still there were revenue collection leakages and infrastructural challenges hindering the sector’s improvement. “For example, in the railway sector Tazara was supposed to transport at least 500,000 tonnes of cargo per year, but in the two previous years they transported less than 200,000 tonnes,” he said, adding that despite having at least 49,000 buses revenue was still low in the sector.
“As a result of this, the government is in talks with bus operators to ensure that by the end of January all buses will have started issuing electronic tickets,” he revealed.