According to East African Community (EAC) secretary general Liberat Mfumukeko, World Bank and EAC secretariat officials will today meet with representatives of the Central Corridor Transit Transport Facilitation Agency (CCTTFA) to share ideas on how the programme should be run for maximum effect.
“Successful implementation of the Lake Tanganyika Transport Programme is expected to have numerous benefits for the riparian states and social communities around the lake”, Mfumukeko said in Arusha yesterday when confirming the World Bank financial support package.
The programme in practice will entail enhancing inland waterway transport and connectivity and improving navigational safety in Africa’s deepest freshwater lake, and promoting security for cross-lake trade activities to be able to thrive.
Tangible steps will also be taken to boost infrastructure and logistical services with a view to delivering an integrated transportation system for both passengers and goods to and from Lake Tanganyika basin ports.
This in turn will allow for easier and more efficient cargo movements from the port of Dar es Salaam to land-locked neighbouring countries like DR Congo and Burundi, via the central corridor.
One of the highlights of the programme will be the building of a wall on the Lukuga River, a tributary of the Lualaba River in DR Congo that drains into Lake Tanganyika.
A reported decline in the lake’s water depth is said to have seriously affected commercial activities at the port of Kigoma in Tanzania and Kalemie, Uvira, and Moba ports in DR Congo.
According to CCTTFA executive secretary Dieudonné Dukundane, ambitious transport connectivity projects need to be supported to facilitate increased cross-border trade along the central corridor.
“To achieve this goal, we must have sufficient ships to facilitate import and export trade, and a streamlined movement of goods along the lake,” Dukundane said.
He noted that Burundi is still paying higher rates of goods transportation fees than other countries within the three mentioned blocs, estimated at between 30 and 40% of total merchandise values.
“This constitutes a big challenge,” Dukundane said.
Lake Tanganyika is seen as well placed to provide intermodal linkages between tripartite regional economic bloc of EAC, COMESA and SADC, making it a critical conduit for not only transport needs, but also wider economic benefits.
The implementation of the intermodal strategy started in 2015 with the Lake Victoria Transport Programme covering projects in Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda, with World Bank and DFID support. World Bank support to the Lake Victoria programme amounts to approximately $600 million.
For the past three years, countries surrounding Lake Tanganyika - Tanzania, Burundi, Zambia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) - were in talks with the World Bank on how to save Lake Tanganyika from environmental related challenges such as pollution and a significant decrease in water levels.