THE government of Zanzibar has signed a 230 million US dollars (over 368bn/-) deal with a Chinese company for construction of a new port at Maruhubi area, a milestone to the development efforts of the Isles.
The China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) Vice Chairman, Mr Lin Yi Chong and the Principal Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Infrastructure and Communication, Dr Juma Malik Akil signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Friday.
Zanzibar Minister for Finance, Mr Omar Yussuf Mzee, Minister and Deputy Minister for Infrastructure and Communications, Mr Rashid Seif Suleiman and Mr Issa Haji Ussi respectively, joined the CHEC delegation led by its chairman Mr Sun Zi Yu, civil servants and journalists to witness the signing of the contract.
"I fell in love with Zanzibar and we are ready to work," said Mr Sun Zi Yu, as his deputy Mr Lin told the gathering that Zanzibaris should expect a new port of high quality with security facilities. The construction period is 36 months.
Mr Suleiman expressed his joy about the start of the port project, saying: "China is our brother and therefore we hope the construction of the port will be of the required standard."
According to the PS, this is the first phase of the long-term port development project. "The new port will have a 300 metres docking space and 65 metres land craft, modern handling equipment with capability to handle 200,000 containers and 250,000 tonnes of loose cargo," he said.
The finance minister said the dream to have a modern port is now a reality. "The Exim bank will provide a loan of 200 million US dollars while the contractors (CHEC) have agreed to release 30 million US dollars through equity financing of the 36 months project construction period," he said.
Mr Mzee also said that his office is still following up on the release of the funds from Exim bank as soon as possible so that the construction begins. He noted that the union government through the Ministry of Finance will have to sign the loan agreement before it is released, because the union government is the guarantor of foreign loans and grants.
He said Zanzibar will have 25 years including a grace period of five years to repay the loan from the time the money is released and that the agreement includes CHEC enjoying 13 per cent of the port shares for an undisclosed period.
By Issa Yussuf - Daily News