Economy - Development | Culture - Arts | Travel - Leisure
"African Queen" to Tanzania or Germany?
The "Liemba" is among the oldest operational ferries in the world and among the most mythical. She has a large tourism potential, but Tanzanian authorities currently deem the "Liemba" unfit for passenger transport - although these safety concerns are ignored and the ferry still ships persons along the 800 kilometres long eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika.
The careful sinking paid off. In 1924, British colonialists were able to lift the "Götzen", finding that even the engines were still usable. By 1927, the steam boat was able to take up passenger and cargo freight on Lake Tanganyika under her new name "Liemba".
Since 1927, the "Liemba" has been operational, only with a few interruptions. In 1970, steam engines were replaced with diesel motors, and a second major overhaul was done in 1993. It is the diesel aggregate, creating stronger vibrations than the stem engine "Liemba" was created for, that now slowly are shaking the boat apart, making here unsafe for passenger freight.
The "Liemba" has had several appearances in the hall of fame since the war. In 1951, she featured in the classic movie "The African Queen" in a star role along with Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. In 1997, the "Liemba" had a more heroic role in transporting more than 75,000 persons fleeing the Congo war on the other shore of Lake Tanganyika.
No wonder, then, that there is continued interest in the "Liemba". Currently, the ex-steam ship is creating most debate where it once was built, in the part of northern Germany now called Lower Saxony.
Indeed, Lower Saxony's autonomous parliament in Febr
Funding of the proposed project is still in the air. But a spokeswoman of the Lower Saxony government told the local press that there already had been made a request to the federal government in Berlin to co-finance "a modernisation" of the "Liemba". The still existing Meyer shipyard has announced its interest in restoring the historic ship, saying it would be possible to modernise the "Liemba".
It was unclear whether Meyer could do the modernisation works in Kigoma other whether it would again have to be shipped to its site of construction, Papenburg in Lower Saxony. But there are also other interests in Papenburg, wanting the "Liemba" back to Germany. A local group is working for a recovery of the mythical ship, with an aim of exposing it in a Papenburg museum.
Whatever happens to the "Liemba", local, Tanzanian and German authorities agree that Lake Tanganyika needs a passenger and cargo ferry. While the Berlin government says that the many current suggestions for the future of the "Liemba" still have to concretise, it indicates its willingness to co-finance some Lake Tanganyika ferry solution. With or without the African Queen.
By Rainer Chr. Hennig
© afrol News
- Create an e-mail alert for Tanzania news
- Create an e-mail alert for Economy - Development news
- Create an e-mail alert for Culture - Arts news
- Create an e-mail alert for Travel - Leisure news
On the Afrol News front page now