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Government denies blocking Tanzania water vessels

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The Malawi Government has, through the Marine Department, dismissed reports that it is blocking three of Tanzania’s State-owned vessels from picking and dropping cargo and passengers on the Malawian side.

There have been reports in Tanzania’s news media to the effect that that country’s Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa has asked Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) officials to, working with Malawian counterparts, come up with a lasting solution by August 25 this year.

In the late 1970s, Illala used to go to Mbamba Bay in Tanzania from Nkhata Bay; which was also the case with Tanzania MV Songea.

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However, a decline in water traffic resulted in water transport dying a natural death.

Marine Department Director John Mhango said there has not been any misunderstanding on the issue of lake use.

“If anything, the issue was about where the vessels could dock as they are bigger and longer self-propelled barges,” he said.

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The three vessels involved are MV Njombe, MV Ruvuma and another passengers’ ship estimated to be 60 metres longer than MV Ilala.

Mhango said what they know is that their Tanzanian counterparts have, through TPA, introduced three vessels and during their trial landing the crew wanted to dock at Chipoka in Salima but the facility is under maintenance.

“One of the issues is that, at Chipoka, water levels are very low. At one time, we even closed the port. At present, we are dredging with the idea to take pre-casts to Likoma for the jetty project… We cannot block them because we need business from them,” Mhango said.

Malawi, Tanzania and Mozambique governments have agreements which entail that ships from either country can dock freely.

“Their ships are free to call at our ports; the same applies to us,” he said.

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