Deputy minister Atashasta Nditiye revealed as much in Dodoma yesterday when tabling the implementation report of the Marine Services Company Limited (MSCL) before the Parliamentary Infrastructure Development Committee.
He said that the government had already dished out money to MSCL for the purpose, adding that the work would start “any time from now”.
The work would involve ships to provide passenger and cargo transport services in Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika, he said, naming the vessels lined up for renovation as the decades-old MV Victoria, MV Butiama, MV Liemba, MV Umoja and MV Serengeti.
According to the deputy minister, the completion of the construction and renovation would facilitate “the exploration of economic opportunities in the regions the vessels will serve”.
“We believe that, with the implementation of this project, passenger and cargo transport will improve in the two lakes, trade within the country and with neighbouring countries will also similarly improve, and the government will realise bigger revenue collections,” he added.
He informed the committee that he recently inspected progress on MV Clarias, which recently resumed services between Mwanza and Nansio on Ukerewe Island after undergoing renovation.
Briefing the committee, MSCL acting manager Eric Hamissi said they were through with the screening of contractors to undertake the construction of the two ships.
He said the work would be done by STX Engine Co. Ltd and STX Offshore & Shipbuilding Co. Ltd Joint Venture, while KTMI Company deal with the renovation jointly Yuko’s Enterprises Co. Ltd.
The manager explained that the construction agreements would be signed within the next two weeks, clarifying: “The renovation agreement is set to be signed by the end of this month and the construction one in February (next month).”
Hamissi also reported that the Tanzania Ports Authority had dished out 300m/- “which has enabled the refurbishing of four cargo and passenger ships: MV Sangara, MV Clarias, MV Wimbi and MV Umoja.
“The work has enabled MSCL to boost its business and increase collections by ferrying more passengers and cargo in Tanzania and neighbouring countries,” he noted.
The committee’s chairman, Prof Norman Sigalla, commended the government for having facilitated the implementation of the projects.
He however expressed concern over the reported shortage of ship captains, saying it was a serious challenge the government ought to address by ensuring Tanzanian institutions churn out bigger numbers of the experts.