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Thursday, April 7, 2016

Rusumo bridge unites Tanzanians, Rwandans

PRESIDENT John Magufuli has appealed to Tanzania and Rwanda residents to utilise fully the opportunities availed at the Rusumo International Bridge and One Stop Border Post (OSBP) for robust economic transformation, poverty reduction and improved livelihoods.

President Magufuli made the remarks on Wednesday during the opening of Rusumo International Bridge and One Stop Border Post (OSBP), saying the move aimed at easing congestion and delays in transportation of goods.

“Utilise fully the opportunities available through the Rusumo International Bridge and One Stop Border Post to bring about not only your own development by improved economies of the two countries” he said.

Dr Magufuli further stressed the importance on unity among East African Community (EAC) member countries, saying that such unity would make the countries stronger economically and speed up peoples’ development. He noted that the EAC countries -- Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and South Sudan, with a combined population of 165 million, had a better chance to hasten peoples’ development.”

I hereby appeal to all residents in the EAC region to utilise this opportunity by trading and making business together. With unity we can perform wonders, he said. The refurbished border facilities are expected to ease trade along the Central Corridor, which links Rwanda to Dar es Salaam Port. Speaking at the event, President Kagame touted peace as a foundation of a cooperation that will transform the two countries.

Long distance drivers to all Great Lakes regions have all the reason to celebrate as President John Magufuli announced that only three checkpoints will operate from Dar es Salaam to Rusumo border and remove all others that were operating previously, saying the move aimed at easing congestion and delays in transportation of goods.

Announcing the decision in the event commissioned jointly by Dr Magufuli and Rwanda President Paul Kagame, Dr Magufuli mentioned the remaining three checkpoints that will operate as Lusahunga, Singida and Vigwaza.

“There have been delay in goods delivery and at times, due to clearance congestion, some of them get spoiled before their final destination, due to a number of stops the drivers has to go through and ultimately spend so many days on transit” said Dr Magufuli.

He said that instead of spending two or three days to their final destination, the drivers had to use 15 days due to unnecessary delays at the weighing bridges simply because the workers at the stations were using delaying tactics to solicit bribes.

“Some drivers of the long transit vehicles had to set a special budget for workers at the checkpoints and at times purchase them food items, goats and charcoal as a means to let them move free, this is uncalled for, such workers must go” he stressed.

Dr Magufuli caused laughter to hundreds of people who turned up that the completed projects will also cut down the spread of HIV/AIDS as drivers will take shorter days to make clearance of the transit goods compared to the past when drivers had to spend between five to ten days. “For the two days I will be in Rwanda, I will learn a lot. I want to assure you that Tanzanians are your brothers.

Africa has been blessed with resources. We have all we need to develop and transform our lives,” President Magufuli told his audience. This is Dr Magufuli’s first state visit to a foreign country since he was elected Head of State last October. However, Dr Magufuli urged them to take care of the infrastructures and make sure that all those who damage them take responsibility.

The president also directed security organs to institute sterner measures against those who will be found sabotaging such infrastructure as streetlights, road signs and bridge railings to ensure sustainability and maintenance of the two properties. He also said that African countries have all it takes to develop – and called for hard work by all concerned to ensure the people’s lives are transformed.

Dr Magufuli thanked the government of Japan through its International Aid Agency (JAICA), and the African Development Bank Group (AFDB) that financed the two projects that cost a total of 61.3bn/- on completion.

A representative of AFDB, Dr Tonia Kadiero pledged continued support to East African Community (EAC) countries for improvement of various development projects including infrastructure. She named some of the projects to include Kibuye-Mpigi road (Uganda) and Kagitumba-Rusumo (Tanzania).

The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) will support Tanzania’s economic transformation to inclusive and green growth with an indicative concessional resource assistance package estimated at over US $1.1 billion over a five-year period.

The support package is contained in the Bank’s 2016-2020 Country Strategy Paper (CSP) for Tanzania, which will guide the Bank’s operations in the country in the next five years.

The CSP was approved by Bank’s Board of Directors on February 24, 2016 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. While commending Tanzania’s robust GDP growth which has exceeded 6% since 2001, the Board said future assistance would address the most pressing constraints to economic transformation and improving public sector governance to ensure value for money in public spending.

Thus, the CSP is built on two complementary support pillars – infrastructure development for inclusive and green growth; and strengthening governance and accountability for improved competitiveness.

The first pillar emphasizes support to transport and energy to promote domestic and regional transport connectivity, and improve access to reliable, affordable and sustainable electricity; while the second pillar prioritises strengthening of financial management and improving the enabling environment for private sector investment and finance for sustainable job creation.

“Investment interventions from the Bank’s private sector window will be complementary and aimed at improving enterprise access to finance, in particular businesses engaged in smallholder agriculture, agri-business and related value-chains.

Non-lending operations will be targeted at providing capacity building, technical assistance and advisory services to improve domestic resources mobilisation (DRM) and the negotiation of commercial transactions in the oil and gas sector,” according to the CSP papers presented to the Board.

In order to effectively consolidate the Bank’s contribution to Tanzania’s development, the CSP 2016-2020 introduces innovative infrastructure investments that aim at transforming operational regions into sustainable development corridors. It also mainstreams the Bank’s 2013-2022 Ten Year Strategy priorities such as inclusive and green growth, gender equality and empowerment.

It aligns the strategy with the High 5 Priorities (Light up and power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialise Africa, Integrate Africa and Improve the quality of life for Africans) and the country’s Social Development Goals (SDGs).

Application of innovative financing instruments, such as local currency bonds and guarantees that can be used to de-risk lending to sectors like agriculture to augment African Development fund (ADF) and AfDB resources windows, also forms part of the package. Dr Magufuli elaborated that detailed designs were in progress to construct a 1,672 kms standard gauge railway line linking Dar-Kigali-Bujumbura.

The railway line will save roads from damage as most goods would be transported using wagons. The Chief Executive (CEO) of the Tanzania National Roads Agency (TANROADS), Engineer Patrick Mfugale said the Rusumo International Bridge-9.5 metres wide and 80 metres long can now accommodate 80 tons compared to 30 tons during 1972.

The infrastructure, located on theTanzania-Rwanda border, is vital in not only accelerating cross-border interaction between the two countries but also enhance linkage between the landlocked countries of Eastern and Central Africa and the Indian Ocean.

After the inaugural ceremony, the two leaders proceeded to the Rwandan capital Kigali where they will hold bilateral talks and together lay a wreath at the Kigali Genocide Memorial in memory of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide.

The trip, his first foreign visit since assuming office in October 2015, signifies the importance Tanzania attaches to strengthening relations with its neighbours.

As the current EAC chairman, President Magufuli’s first foreign visit to the region also portrays his commitment to deepening the integration process and strengthening relations between member states of the regional economic grouping.

The two countries are major trading partners. According to reports from Kigali, Dar es Salaam Port handles 70 per cent of the central African country’s exports and imports, making it a key port in terms of handling Rwandan cargo.

Rwanda also regards Tanzania’s central corridor, which combines road and railway network, as an essential trade and transport route, linking it with neighbouring Burundi, Uganda and the eastern part of Democratic Republic of Congo.

/Daily News.

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