The Citizen newspaper has recently reported an announcement by President Jakaya Kikwete indicating that plans for major upgrades to the Tanzania transportation infrastructure via its roads system are expected to help open up the central parts of the country for additional trade and business.
Among the roads the be worked on are the Minjingu-Babati-Singida road and the Babati-Dodoma-Iringa section of the Great North Road, both of which are set to be paved.
According to President Kikwete, who spoke directly at the official inauguration of the 240-ilometer Arusha-Athi River road, the laying of tarmac on the road that links Arusha to Singida was ready to begin, if it had not already been started.
President Kikwete went on to explain that the project has received its funding from the African Development Bank (AfDB) and is scheduled to be implemented in three separate phases.
In addition, the President also indicated that the Government would work to acquire the funding to repair the Babati-Dodoma-Iringa road, a road that was once a major link between the northern region and the southern highlands, but has been in need of reparations for several years.
“If AfDB has been generous to fund several road projects in the region,” said President Kikwete, “they should also be kind to us to consider this important section of the Great North road.”
President Kikwete was speaking in the presence of both the AfDB president, Dr. Donald Kaberuka, as well as four other East African heads of state while he also made an announcement concerning the impending completion of its portion of the Lake Victoria ring road, saying that there was only a small section of work left to be done between Geita and Biharamulo in the Muleba district.
In addition to this Arusha-Athi River road project, other major highways are scheduled to be upgraded under the East African Road Project (EARP) network in order to link Tanzania and Kenya, including the Malindi-Mombasa-Horohoro-Tanga-Pangani-Bagamoyo to Dar es Salaam road as well as the Mombasa-Voi-Mwatate-Holili-Moshi section of the road.
Another major road project that has also been scheduled to begin under the same EARP network, is the road leading from Nyakanazi-Kigoma-Mpanda-Sumbawanga to the Zambian border, which has been designed in order to allow for faster access to travelers from Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Southern Sudan to southern Africa.
President Kikwete went on to indicate that additional roads will also be built up in order to link Tanzania to Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda.
According to the AfDB president, Dr. Kaberuka, over USD 3 billion has been introduced by the bank to supplement infrastructure development projects in East Africa, primarily in the area of road upgrades.
The president went on to say that one of the top priorities of the East African Community was infrastructure development and the current USD 156 million Arusha-Namanga road reconstruction and upgrading project will be the first major project to be implemented under East African Road Project network, which is being jointly financed by the AfDB and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).