Africa Construction Economy Infrastructure SADC Tanzania

Spotlight: Tanzanian workers gain skills from Chinese-built bridge

Tanzania’s new 135-million-US-dollar bridge connecting Kigamboni and Kurasini in the east African nation’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam, has left an indelible mark to local engineers.

The project undertaken by China Railway Construction Engineering Group (CRCEG) in a joint venture with China Railway Major Bridge Group (CRMBG) was officially inaugurated by President John Magufuli on Tuesday.

The CRCEG/CRMBG project manager, Zhang Bangxu, said the project employed over 5,000 Tanzanians as local foremen and technicians who have gained on the job experience.

“They can now be able to manage projects of similar proportions,” said Zhang.

Among the beneficiaries of the project is Francis Mambo, who holds a diploma in land survey. He says he has gained invaluable experience during the implementation of the project.

“As one of the local experts, I can comfortably employ the knowledge gained working on the Kigamboni Bridge to do similar civil works anywhere in the country,” Mambo said.

As a land surveyor, Mambo’s work involved measuring properties and pieces of land to determine bridge boundaries.

“Information about boundaries is necessary as it helps determine where roads or buildings will be constructed, settles property line disputes, and leads to the creation of maps,” says the land surveyor.

Projects of such magnitude also require the skills of a quantity surveyor, a role another local expert, Paul James Mnyeke, excelled in remarkably.

Locals gather on the bridge for its inauguration on April 19, 2016. (Xinhua/Pan Siwei)
Locals gather on the bridge for its inauguration on April 19, 2016. (Xinhua/Pan Siwei)

As a quantity surveyor who learned his trade at the University of Dar es Salaam, Mnyeke was responsible for costing for the entire project — from initial estimates, right through to the final acquisition of materials.

The two are among 5,000 lucky Tanzanians, who have added another point in their learning curve. Upon completion of the project, they were awarded with memorable certificates of service making them marketable in their field of service.

But even as the country celebrates the completion of this bridge, which will accelerate development on the Kigamboni peninsula, it has also unearthed challenges the government ought to address, especially if it has to fully exploit technology transfer to its advantage.

According to the CRCEG/CRMBG project engineer, Jamal Mruma, there is need for the government to institute a policy that makes it mandatory for students to get internship in companies undertaking similar construction projects to ensure that students get the requisite experience needed to undertake similar projects.

“For instance we have hosted about 10 students from the University of Dar es Salaam who came for internship here on their own initiative and greatly gained from our training,” says Mruma.

Mruma says the benefits to the local employees were immense. Not only was their training practical, they were also getting paid, which enabled them to support their families while contributing to national development.

“This is a great project implemented by experts from Tanzania and China, and we we’re very proud of them,” says Zhang, adding that construction works began on February 1, 2012.

Photo taken on April 18, 2016 shows vehicles traveling on Kigamboni Bridge Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.(Xinhua/Pan Siwei)
Photo taken on April 18, 2016 shows vehicles traveling on Kigamboni Bridge Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.(Xinhua/Pan Siwei)

Edwin Hayaishi, a resident of Kigamboni, says the construction of the bridge was relief to him because he will now be able to travel between the area and the city center within a shorter period of time.

“Before the bridge was constructed, I used to spend a lot of time on the road, including long wait for a pontoon that plies between the two destinations,” says Hayaishi.

Another resident in the commercial capital, Lincoln Chittanda, says he would now be able to visit his relatives in Kigamboni following the construction of the bridge.

“Before the bridge was in place I rarely visited my relatives on the other side of the capital due to transport headaches that were prevalent,” adds Chittanda.

Inaugurating the bridge, President Magufuli said the bridge will contribute to the country’s economic growth.

“The Chinese contractors have done a good job,” President Magufuli told the Chinese ambassador to Tanzania, Lu Youqing.

The President thanked China for the excellent job done by CRCEG in a joint venture with CRMBG, saying construction of the bridge has given credibility to the two Chinese firms to be given other construction works in the east African nation.

He said the bridge was also expected to boost the domestic tourism sector in the planned Kigamboni city.

The 680 meter-long bridge, the first of its kind in east and central Africa, connects Dar es Salaam’s business district to Kigamboni creek.

The bridge, measured 32 meters in width, has six lanes, three in each direction. It also has two pedestrian and cyclist lanes with a width of 2.5 meters, one on each side.

Source: New China

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