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» 26.03.2010 - Rwanda-Tanzania border passing eased
» 15.03.2010 - Tanzania donors push gender agenda
» 17.02.2010 - Tanzania signs loan agreement with Japan
» 08.01.2010 - World celebrities climb Kilimanjaro to raise funds
» 22.12.2009 - Kenya to counter Tanzania's Ivory sales proposal
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"African Queen" to Tanzania or Germany?

The "Graf von Götzen" as it was finished by the Meyer shipyard in 1913, thus a steam boat

© Meyer Werft/afrol News
afrol News, 20 April
- The mythical "Liemba" ferry on Lake Tanganyika, operational since 1913 and made world famous by the film "African Queen", desperately needs an overhaul as she is no longer fit for passenger freight. Ancient colonial power Germany considers repairing the "Liemba", while others favour transporting her back to 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.

But by 2012, the "Liemba" definitively has to stop trafficking the world's longest lake, Tanzanian authorities have ordered. Then, also the cargo freight - which now unofficially allows for some passengers to get a lift - will be unauthorised. A 99 years old era will come to an end.

Or will it?

Not only Tanzanians take pride in the "Liemba". Germans, which colonised continental Tanzania from 1884 to 1917, are equally proud of the extraordinary construction and operation of the "Graf von Götzen", as the steam boat was called before English colonisation.

"Graf von Götzen" was constructed at the Meyer Werft shipyard in northern Germany. After a model assembly, the ship was again split into hundreds of pieces, shipped to Dar es Salaam in 1913, and from there carried by manpower overland to the distant Lake Tanganyika through road-less savannas and forests. At the shore, Meyer engineers and local workers assembled the "Götzen" for a second time.

Her time as a German ferry on Lake Tanganyika was short as the First World War started in 1914. By 1917, British troops overwhelmed Germany's East African colony. The "Götzen" was ordered not to fa

In 1997, the "Liemba" transported over 75,000 Congolese refugees across Lake Tanganyika

© US govt/afrol News
ll in enemy hands. But Meyer shipyard operators, set to carry out the order, were eager to save the ship they had assembled with so much care. They carefully sank the "Götzen" on a site where she easily could be salvaged, making sure to grease engine parts thoroughly.

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

The "Liemba" in 2003, now diesel powered and still well maintained since the 1993 overhaul

© RocheDirac/Wikipedia/afrol News
uary decided to seek a development cooperation partnership with Tanzania, according to information provided afrol News in Hanover. In March, a mission was sent to Tanzania, and one of the projects decided on, due to its highly symbolic value, was to seek restoration of the "Liemba". The Lower Saxony delegation also inspected the "Liemba" at the port town of Kigoma.

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.

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