Dar es salaam port’s annual cargo traffic growth now stands at 14 per cent, the Acting Director General of the Tanzania Ports Authority, Awadhi Massawe, said on Wednesday, this week.
He told editors of Tanzania media houses on a familiarisation tour of the Dar es Salaam port that major infrastructural improvements and good working relations with port users were behind steady cargo traffic growth at the port.
“The traffic growth is steady and encouraging,” he told the editors,adding: “all of these can be translated into two cardinal service delivery tenets: good working relations and understand what the stakeholders want.”
Massawe said major reforms and infrastructural development projects that have been executed in recent years sought to enhance the port’s performance, telling editors that 40 per cent of the government revenue comes from ports.
It was only pertinent and rational that editors and port authorities work together to ensure ports work efficiently for the good of the nation, the acting director general said appealing to editors: “let’s work together to ensure ports had a good image and perform well so that they generate the requisite revenue for the welfare of Tanzanians.”
Speaking on behalf of the editors, Chairman of Tanzania Editors’ Forum (TEF), Absalom Kibanda appreciated reforms and improvements at the port but said TPA and the government should focus on improving railway transport because, he said, it was the cheapest and probably the quickest haulage system if it worked well.
“With efficient TRL or TAZARA cargo trains the flow of cargo from Dar es Salaam port will be steady and economical,” he said, noting that without reliable railway transport all efforts by TPA would be meaningless.
The Nipashe Newspaper Managing Editor, Jesse Kwayu, echoed Kibanda’s observations saying a problematic railway haulage system will always be the hurdle to TPA’s efforts to improve the port’s efficiency.
According to Massawe the port is poised to become one of the most modern and efficient by 2020 when World Bank Group and UK’s Department for International Development funded project is completed.
He said that the 596 million US dollars (over 1.1bn/-) which was kick-started in April, this year will greatly improve infrastructure at the country’s prime port.
Masawe said by 2020, the port’s capacity will increase to over 22 million metric tons from the current 14 million tons per annum while ship’s dwell time will be reduced to five days.
“The project involves demolition of sheds to pave way for a container terminal, duo access roads to Gates 3, 5 and 8, dredging of the port’s mouth,” Masawe said.
The TPA acting DG said the port which last year handled 14 million metric tons against a target of 13.5 million tons thanks to Big Results Now, will handle 18 million metric tons by 2017.
World Bank Country Director for Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda, Philippe Dongier said development partners are committed to assisting government improve and modernise the port’s infrastructure because of its importance to the country and the region.
“The East Africa region has one of the fastest growing economies in the world with most cargo going through Dar es Salaam port, there has been a 10 per cent annual increase in freight for the past five years,” Dongier said in a speech read on his behalf by a senior WB Dar es Salaam official, Monthe Biyoudi. World Bank is a concessional loan of 400 million US dollars which is the first of its kind in the Africa region.
The funding will also include a grant of 136 million US dollars from DFID with another 60 million US dollars from Trade Mark East Africa.
“This sum also excludes the essential investment in the access infrastructure, the three key access roads, the Kilwa, Nyerere and Mandela roads, together with proposed southern by pass, between Dar es Salaam port round to the airport and then to Kibaha, which the World Bank, and partners, will be providing in parallel,” he noted.
DFID Head of Mission, Vell Gnanendran said despite recent improvements, the port remains overwhelmed hence needs urgent expansion and modernisation to meet demand and reduce the cost of trade.
“This is why we have committed 63 million US dollars to this first phase of the Dar es Salaam Maritime Gateway Project, and why we are planning to invest up to a further 130 million US dollars in the second phase along with the World Bank,” Gnanendran noted.
“Dar es Salaam port handles two thirds of this country imports and exports but also goods from neighbouring landlocked countries in the region which is one of the fastest growing economically,” Gnanendran said.
The private sector which has been on the receiving end of Dar es Salaam port’s constrained capacity, is hoping that the DMGP will finally improve infrastructure.
DSM Corridor Group Chief Executive Officer, Erik Kok said his company wants to escape from the traffic congested Dar es Salaam port by establishing a dry port at Kisaware in Coast Region.
“By taking cargo to Kisarawe dry port and then through Kibaha by trucks will reduce time and costs compared to the current route,” said Kok whose handled over 1.6 million tons of cargo last year which is over 10 per cent of the 14 million tons handled by Dar es Salaam port.
Kok expressed hope that the project will address the issue of infrastructure improvement especially roads from the port to Inland Container Depots.
He said poor roads are prohibiting cargo trucks from carrying maximum capacity of their load because of fears of accidents.
“Trucks which can carry two containers cannot do so because of bad roads, they can only manage single 20 feet containers instead of two,” he pointed out.
Ministry of Transport Permanent Secretary, Dr Shabaan Mwinjaka said the project which is part of Big Results Now initiative will include modernising and upgrading of Berth 1 to 7 while aged general cargo warehouses will be demolished to pave way for container handling equipment.
“We have already signed memorandum of understanding with governments of Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo which have pledged to use Dar es Salaam port for their imports and exports,” Dr Mwinjaka said before kick-starting the demolition exercise of aged warehouses in April, this year.
He urged the private sector to join forces in implementing the ambitious project which also involves modernisation of the central railway line and reduction of border barriers.
With support from Trade Mark East Africa, the number of road blocks and weighbridges between Dar es Salaam and Kigoma in the borders of Burundi and Rwanda will be reduced from over a dozen to three by 2020.
The country’s prime port also serves six land locked countries of Burundi, DR Congo, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia.