President Magufuli out to leave mega projects legacy

What you need to know:

  • Magufuli’s administration so far is keen to implement mega projects that he believes will have transform the country’s fortunes

Dar es Salaam. Professionally, President John Magufuli is a chemical engineer. He holds a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Dar es Salaam. Undeniably, he is fond of construction and has demonstrated the knack to push projects through once he buys into it.

It is not for nothing that he has been nicknamed ‘bulldozer’, a tag he has earned since his service as minister for works in the past.

In fact, it was his role as the minister of works that made him easily recognisable. He was seen as a tireless worker who did not shy away from rolling up the sleeves to join people in the field to get results.

It was this image that he, not surprisingly, used for his campaign for the presidency in 2015 elections.

No sooner had President Magufuli assumed the highest position of administration almost three years ago than he chose mega projects as his administration’s flagship.

And, though, he has not spoken about it publicly, it appears that he wants his name to be remembered through the number of mega-projects initiated, implemented and completed under his watch. Some of the projects he found in the pipeline or unfinished.

During a one-and-half-hour long speech to inaugurate the 11th Parliament in 2015, President Magufuli underscored this commitment saying that railway, port and air infrastructure would be improved to match the opportunities available.

The Head of State told the parliament that the gas discoveries will help the nation leap insisting that industrialisation will be key to his plans.

Below is a look at some of the ongoing projects that the current administration was pushing, either as own initiated or those that the country will play a key role to bring into fruition.

The Tanzania-Uganda Oil Pipeline

In August this year, Tanzania and Uganda signed an agreement for the construction a natural gas pipeline. The multi-million dollar deal was signed at the end of a three-day Joint Permanent Commission Summit held in Kampala, led by Foreign Affairs Minister Augustine Mahiga and Uganda’s minister for Energy Irene Muloni.

The pipeline would be the first trans-border gas pipeline in East Africa since the extraction of natural gas commenced in 2004 at the Songosongo Island in Tanzania’s southern region of Lindi. The gas to be transmitted is meant for power generation for industrial and domestic use. A half of Tanzania’s power generation depends on natural gas plants generate 684.66MW, those using diesel 125.429MW and hydro 561.843MW.

The government is optimistic that gas will finally be pumped from the $30 billion planned liquefied natural-gas plant in Lindi region by 2026-27. Negotiations for the current stalled project are still on with companies including Exxon Mobil Corp. and Equinor ASA.

Major upgrade of Dar Port

In July last year, President John Magufuli launched a $421m project to nearly double the capacity of Dar es Salaam’s cramped and congested sea port. The World Bank and UK-funded Dar es Salaam Maritime Gateway Project (DSMGP) is undertaken by China Harbour Engineering Construction Company (CHEC), a subsidiary of the state-run China Communications Construction Company.

The plan that is expected to double the port’s cargo handling capacity from 13.8 million tonnes last year to 25 million tonnes over the next seven years is expected to be completed in 36 months.

The World Bank lent the government $345m for the scheme, and giving a $12m grant. The government itself contributed about $63m while the UK’s Department for International Development contributed $12m.

Construction of New Chato Airport

The government is currently constructing a Sh39 billion airport project which is expected to be completed this year and already 65 per cent of the project is complete.

Started in 2016, the new airport will also mark a gateway to international tourism attraction sites in the region like the Rubondo island national park in Chato District and those in the Lake Zone regions. Questions have, however, been raised on whether the decision to construct the airport fully considered the advantages and disadvantages of establishing such a multibillion facility in Chato.

Stiegler’s Gorge Hydroelectric Power Station

In August 2017, the government advertised for bids to construct the Sh4.5 trillion Stiegler’s Gorge Hydroelectric Power Station, which is a planned 2,100 megawatts (2,800,000 hp) hydroelectric dam, expected to produce 5,920GWh of power annually.

The power station would be located across the Rufiji River, in the Stiegler’s Gorge, in the Selous Game Reserve, Morogoro Region, approximately 220 kilometres (137 mi), by road, southwest of Dar es Salaam.

This power station is located in Selous Game Reserve, one of the world’s largest World Heritage sites, measuring 45,000 square kilometres (17,000 sq mi). The power station and reservoir lake are planned to occupy approximately 1,350 square kilometres (520 sq mi), within the game reserve.

The selected contractor is expected to complete the dam in no more than 36 months. This is one of those projects that the President has declared will be rolled out despite external pressure hinged on the effects it is likely to have on the promotion of tourism as well as on the livelihoods of more than 200,000 people in the catchment area.

Standard Gauge Railway

As is Stiegler’s Gorge project, the standard gauge railway is President Magufuli’s signature project. It has been given the top most priority by the administration.

In 2017, the government started the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway system, which is expected to link the country to the neighbouring countries of Rwanda and Uganda, and through these two, to Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The new SGR is intended to replace the old, inefficient metre-gauge railway system. The construction of the railway is divided into five section. The ongoing construction covers the Dar es Salaam–Morogoro Section.

This section, measuring 300 kilometres (186 mi), was contracted to a 50/50 consortium comprising Yapi Merkezi of Turkey and Mota-Engil of Portugal. Construction began in April 2017. Partial funding for this section, amounting to $1.2 billion, was borrowed from the Export Credit Bank of Turkey.

The SGR is expected to accommodate passenger trains traveling at 160 kilometres (99 mi) per hour and cargo trains traveling at 120 kilometres (75 mi) per hour.

Tazara flyover and Ubungo interchage

The completion of the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (Tazara) overpass in Dar es Salaam comes as a relief to motorists, who previously had to endure many hours in traffic.

Constructed at the junction of the busy Mandela Expressway and Julius Nyerere Road in the commercial capital, the flyover — funded by the government of Japan through the Japan International Co-operation Agency (Jica) — was officially inaugurated by President John Magufuli in October.

Construction of the flyover started in October 2016 at an estimated cost of $45 million.

The completion of the first flyover has paved the way for other flyovers. There is the Ubungo flyover, under the Dar es Salaam Urban Transport Improvement Project, supported by a $225 million concessional credit from the International Development Association.

There are six flyovers in total planned for construction in Dar es Salaam, according to Tanzania National Roads Agency (Tanroads).

Selander Bridge

In July this year, the government of Tanzania signed a Memorandum of Understanding with its South Korean counterpart for the construction of the 6.2 kilometres Selander bridge in Dar es Salaam.

The bridge will cost $126.26 million (over Sh280bn) and is expected to be completed by 2021. The new edifice will run from Selander bridge and along the Indian Ocean beach front in the city.

The 180-tonnage capacity bridge will ferry 55,000 vehicles per day and is expected to greatly reduce congestion along the overwhelmed independence-time Selander bridge.

Revival of ATCL

Another area where President Magufuli has put in energy is the revival of the Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL), which reports show that it has raised its share of the local market to 24 per cent, up from two per cent previously.

The President started the mission by buying the company two airplanes of Bombardier Q400 only 10 months after assuming power and there is where the ATCL started to raise its head and started to provide various trips within the country. In the beginning of this year, another airplane arrived which made the number of airplanes owned by the ATCL totalling at three, something which has intensified competition in the business of air transport in the country which went hand in hand with the reduction of cost of the transport.

In July this year, the government bought a new airplane Boeing 787-8 (Dreamliner) in its efforts of strengthening the company for international trips and there is a plan of adding another airplane Airbus A220-300 in December this year while another Dreamliner expected to arrive earlier next year.