Tanzania to build bridge between Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar

Tanzania is planning to build a bridge that will connect mainland to the Islands of Zanzibar to ease movement of goods and people, which if undertaken, the 50 km bridge will be the first in Africa.

Deputy minister of Works and Transport Godfrey Kasekenya said in Parliament on April 28, saying that talks that began on March 11, 2023 are in advanced stages. Kasekenya said that the two parties had met with the prospective investors of M/S China Overseas Engineering Group Company (COVEC) who have shown interest in building the bridge.

He has said that the outcome of the meeting is still being worked on by both parties in mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar, noting that the plan for the construction of the bridge will involve a partnership with the private sector. He was answering a question that was asked by Mwantum Dau Haji (CCM Special Seats) who wanted to know when the construction of the bridge would kick off.

The idea of the bridge first came up in 2020 when some Tanzanians in diaspora introduced a plan to construct a sea bridge to link Unguja Island and Dar es Salaam. The idea sparked a lot of debate among citizens with some arguing it is a day dream. But science and technology has proved that the project to construct about 50 km Zanzibar/Dar es Salaam Bridge is possible if funds are available.

Experts insist that a proper economic analysis should be given priority. However, Zanzibar’s President, Dr Hussein Mwinyi says  that his government has yet to receive an official communication regarding the construction of the bridge between Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam.

Speaking to journalists at a monthly press briefing at State House in Zanzibar, Dr Mwinyi said there was a certain company that had contacted the Union government regarding the construction of the 50-kilometre bridge.

According to Dr Juma Ntigaigwa, a senior civil engineer based in Mwanza, nothing can fail where there is political will, financial resources, and the cooperation of all sectors (public and private). “It is quite possible to connect the mainland and Zanzibar by road, but there must be the willingness of the government to cooperate with the private sector because the cost and expertise required are huge. There must be a strategy that will ensure that if another President comes, the plan will continue unabated,” he warned. Dr Janeth Mbozi, an economist and consultant, said that mega projects must be evaluated and their economic benefits checked effectively to avoid having white elephant projects. “The main goal should not be strengthening the union politically, but more economically,” she said.

“Local engineers, economists, and environmental experts should survey the countries where such bridges have been built so that they can determine the real cost and impact on the environment,” she noted.

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