Sunday, June 21, 2009

the port of Mkoani, Pemba

Air transportation is expensive in Pemba. It takes about $100 to buy a ticket from Unguja (Zanzibar) to Chake Chake, Pemba’s unofficial capital. An alternative is to use the daily fast craft that is serviced by the port of Mkoani. Cost is less than $30 I hear and three hours isn’t really that long. The most inexpensive option is the regular ferry that plies the Wete (Northwest Pemba)-Stonetown route which is more like an overnight crossing.

aerial of the town of Mkoani
an aerial view of the town of Mkoani

aerial of Mkoani port
the port from above

The main sea port of Mkoani is well built and solid. It can even take in international containers if only its facilities would be refurbished. There are plans in upgrading the port but this may take time as politics in Zanzibar are muddled.

Mkoani port
the port

Mkoani port crane
the port’s crane can only lift 5 tons or so

As a town, Mkoani moves slow in pace. With little more than 10,000 people, it still is a largely agricultural community, with the occasional demand for government-related work. There seems to be some support from the international community though. A complex of shoebox-type building exists which probably is a donation from East Germany in the 60s or 70s. The Chinese also have made its presence felt by sending in doctors for the local hospital. Multinational NGOs also drop by Pemba regularly.

line fishing
a couple of young boys whiling their time by fishing at Mkoani port

small dhow
wooden dhows which depend on wind power are still used for local fishing

Perhaps time would be kind to Pemba and modernity might just be around the bend. Meantime, clove plantations will still stand, fishing grounds will remain untapped and the white beaches will be as virgin as they still are now.

grilled octopus for sale
a lone group of boys with grilled octopus, squid and fish waiting for some sales just outside the port

donkey cart
transportation by donkey carts is still common in Pemba

To go: Mkoani is in west Pemba, Zanzibar, Tanzania, accessible by fast craft from the Stonetown harbor in Unguja (Zanzibar).

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i was born in Mkoani. My father owned clove plantations, a Shell petrol station. I remember as a child (in the mid 50s) when the town finally got electricity. His business was confiscated after the revolution. I now live in the United States and have great memories of my childhood in Pemba.