NEWSThe Chinese were prepared to complete the building in nine months..." According to a source. By JOSEPH MWAMUNYANGE Posted Saturday, June 9 2012 at 13:29 Tanzania stands to lose the chance to build a $20 million modern maritime university to offer degree courses if it doesn't sign an agreement with the Chinese government by September this year. The country signed a memorandum of understanding with the Chinese government five years ago for the latter to finance the construction of the university by upgrading the Dar es Salaam Maritime Institute (DMI). The MoU expires in four months' time. "It is surprising that even though Tanzania will benefit immensely from this agreement, bureaucrats in government are dragging their feet over concluding the deal," a source privy to the MoU told The EastAfrican. The source further said that the idea of establishing a campus of China-based Dalian Maritime University (DMU) at the Dar es Salaam Maritime Institute first came up when President Jakaya Kikwete requested his Chinese counterpart President Hu Jintao to assist in introducing degree courses at DMI, which is a centre of excellence for East Africa. The Chinese government agreed to this proposal in principle and sent top officials from DMU to Dar to sign the MoU with their Tanzanian counterparts; the next stage was for Tanzanian Minister for Transport Omar Rashid Nundu (who has since been replaced by Harrison Mwakyembe) to travel to China to conclude the deal with his Chinese counterpart. Five years later, this has yet to happen. The vice president of Dalian Maritime University, Sun Yuqing, signed on behalf of his institution while the then principal of DMI, Thomas J. Mayagilo, endorsed the MoU on behalf of the institute. However, the Tanzanian government has been slow in doing its part. Serious issue "The Chinese were prepared to complete the construction of the building in nine months; they were taking the issue very seriously, since it was our president who requested them to establish a campus in the country. DMI serves not only Tanzania but also Burundi, Malawi, Uganda, Comoros, Zambia, Namibia, Seychelles and Kenya," said the source. Institutions at this level are only found in Alexandria in Egypt and Cape Town in South Africa; the DMI will become the third in Africa once the university is established. Under the MoU signed on September 10, 2007, the two parties said that "recognising that globalisation throughout the world heightens the internationalisation of higher education, and in order to cultivate high quality international human resources, Dalian Maritime University and Dar es Salaam Maritime Institute agree to develop mutual beneficial co-operation among various teaching programmes and research fields." To show that they were serious about the project, the Chinese government revised the cost of putting the campus upward. "In 2010, officials from China travelled to Dar es Salaam and generously revised the cost of constructing the building from the initial $17 million to $20 million," said the source. Taking too long However, less than four months before the MoU expires, which would have seen Dar es Salaam's waterfront transformed, Tanzania may after all lose this golden opportunity. Last November, during a visit to China, Deputy Minister for Transport Ezekiel Chibulunje was told by his Chinese hosts that "your country is taking too long to conclude the establishment of a DMU campus at DMI." If the government does its homework in time, DMU will set up a branch on the DMI campus offering joint bachelors programmes in nautical science, marine engineering technology, shipping management and operation and port and container terminal management and operation. In anticipation of establishing a DMU campus at DMI, the management of the latter sent its staff for further studies. Five were sent for master's degree programmes while another five are currently undertaking PhD courses. The government established the DMI on July 3, 1978 after the SCTW78 Convention, an international legal instrument requiring formal training for seafarers, was promulgated. In 1992, the Institute was formally established by an Act of Parliament, the DMI Act No. 22 of 1991.