The ship has become something of a legend in Tanzania, Germany and in other countries, which run along the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika.
M. V Liemba is of immense importance to Tanzania linking it to other neighbouring countries for handling passengers and transit cargo to Zambia, East DRC and Burundi. Liemba being the Swahili name for Lake Tanganyika, with her actual displacement of more than 1,300 tons and her draught of 3 metres, M.V Liemba is one of the largest and oldest ships on the African lakes.
The Rukwa Regional Commissioner, Ms Stella Manyanya told the 'Daily News on Saturday' during an exclusive interview held recently here that the ship is possibly the oldest passenger and cargo ship world over that is still being used in an intensive and regular service.
The M.V Liemba "The African Queen of Lake Tanganyika" was built in Germany in 1913, and carries approximately 400 passengers and crew as she makes her way back and forth along the complete length of mighty Lake Tanganyika, the longest and deepest lake on the vast African continent.
“ Following her dilapidated state, the Germany government is expected to dish out more than Euro 800m for refurbishing of M.V Liemba , the oldest ship in the World. The passenger and cargo ship operates between the ports of Kigoma and Kasanga, Tanzania and Mpulungu, Zambia with numerous stops to pick up and set down passengers in between ……… She also operates between ports of other neighbouring countries including Congo DRC, Rwanda and Burundi," added the RC.
Formerly named the Graf von Götzen, the M.V Liemba has a rich history, starting way back during the First World War where she was used by the Germans to shuttle soldiers along the lake. The ship was also the inspiration for the German gunboat Luisa in C.S. Fosters 1935 novel The African Queen, later made into a famous film starring Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn.
In 1997, the Liemba was used by the UNHCR, along with M. V "Mwongozo", to transport more than 75,000 refugees, who had fled the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) during the First Congo War, back to their homeland following the overthrow of a long time dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.
According to RC, the ship stopped her operations for a year until 1996 when she resumed her operation of ferrying passengers at Kasanga port in 1996. In 2003 the vessel started handling and transiting cargo from Kasanga and Kigoma ports to the neghbouring Congo DRC, Rwanda, Zambia and Burundi . The RC further hinted that until December last year, M.V Liemba was reported to have handled 117,823.86 tons of cargo.