Songwe. Songwe Region is the latest administrative region to be created among Tanzania Mainland’s 26 regions. It was carved out of Mbeya Region in 2016.
The region covers 27,656sq.km. Political supremacy and competition between the ruling party and the opposition has always been very high in the region
As we head for the 2020 General Election on October 28, there are some development projects which have been implemented while others have not. The candidates will have a lot to do to successfully woo voters over.
Poor road systems linking Songwe with other areas will certainly feature highly during the campaigns. Despite the existence of large unfinished water projects, water shortage is still a major problem.
The other needs include A-level education, congestion in classrooms, lack of desks and inadequate medical supplies in public hospitals. Inability to complete construction of healthcare facilities that the last government promised is a nagging problem.
Another agenda that will influence voting patterns are the squabbles over rentals for businesspeople and market space especially in Mbozi.
A resident of Ihanda, Joel Kasebele, says these are some of the agendas that will feature in the ongoing election campaigns - especially for the outgoing MPs and councillors. They will have a difficult time explaining why projects were uncompleted after five years in power.
“This year, long rains damaged many roads rendering them impassable.
“Also, access to clean and safe water is unsatisfactory despite large public-funded but unfinished water projects,” says Kasebele.
Also, there are unfulfilled promises made by the CCM candidate in 2015 when President Magufuli went there to campaign.
A good example is the 10km tarmac road in every district except Vvawa.
A resident of Isongole in Ileje District, Mr Maoni Jackson, says the government has repaired and expanded the local hospital and constructed Ibaba and Lubada dispensaries at a cost of Sh800 million.
It has installed power lines in every village, water projects in Itale, Mapogolo, Ilanga, and constructed the 52km Isongole–Mpemba road.
He says there are some projects which have not been implemented - like supporting construction of dispensaries in each village where villagers built them up to the lintels level.
There are also disputes between the Tanzania Forest Services and local communities, forcing relocation of Katengele Market, for example.
For his part, former Songwe MP Philipo Mlugo says there are many things that the government can be proud of in the past five years.
The Songwe Regional Commissioner, Brigadier General Nicodemus Mwangela says the government has done a lot including the construction of the 50km Mpemba-Isongole tarmac road at a cost of Sh2 billion; the bridge across River Mombavi, and surveying the proposed 130km Kamsamba–Mlowo road.
“We started with the construction of the bridge on Mto Momba, and now we are working on that road. We are completing the relevant drawings - and then we will start executing the project,” says Mr Mwangela.
He mentions other strategic projects as the Songwe irrigation project, at a cost of Sh4 billion; a salt industry in Ivuna (Sh500 million) and an international-class market at Kakozi (Sh8 billion).
Other projects are the construction of a health centre at Kapele, another at Tunduma, and hospitals at Tunduma and Momba.
“These projects have been implemented.
“But, admittedly, many others - including especially in the water sector - are in the pipeline,” he added.
Projects in the Education and Health sectors have been completed in Ileje and Mbozi whereby modern dispensaries have been built, as well as teachers’ houses and classrooms using government funds and public contributions.
Mr Mwangela says other projects -including a referral hospital - are on course.
Former Vwawa lawmaker Japhet Hasunga says what is needed after the 2020 elections is the construction a of modern market and a bus station in Vwawa; vocational training institutions; repair of impassable roads and the provision of safe and clean water supplies.
Other projects are fulfilment of the President’s promise to construct a tarmac road between Vwawa and Hasamba, as well as completion of distribution of REA power lines in the villages.