By TZ Business News Staff.
The first quarter (Q1) of business year 2017 has witnessed a dramatic increase of ship arrivals at the Dar es Salaam port. This was revealed on Thursday, March 23, 2017 when Tanzania President John Pombe Magufuli paid a surprise visit at the port.
The Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) Deputy Director for Operations, Lazaro Jacob told the President standing at the harbor waterfront 20 local ships and 30 international ships had arrived and were queued within the port and outer anchorage ready to offload stuff.
The report especially impressed the President when he compared the figure of 30 international ships in the queue to the three ships he found the first time he visited the port after his inauguration as President in 2015. The President looked vividly excited as he mocked those who have mocked performance of the Dar es Salaam port during his presidency.
Jacob, the TPA Deputy Director for Operations told the president ship arrivals were on the increase, and revenue was also on the increase. The port is a trade gateway for the land locked countries of Zambia , Rwanda, Malawi, Burundi, Uganda and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
The 2017 Q1 surge builds on the impressive performance reported after Rwanda announced its commitment to use the Dar es Salaam port following the inauguration of President Magufuli.
Reuters news agency reported in December, 2016 that efforts made by Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) to attract more cargo from transit markets had started to pay off after the authority recorded an increase of cargo destined to Rwanda.
A TPA statement said the port handled 228,655 tons higher than their target of 212,500 tons during the first quarter of financial year 2016/2017 which is from July to September, 2016. The statement added that cargo handled during the quarter was 211,095 tons above the amount handled in the corresponding first quarter in financial year 2015/16.
The Dar es Salaam port also saw increased cargo traffic handled for domestic consumption during the quarter when a total of 2,482,144 tons were handled, compared to their estimated seaborne trade target of 1,800,000 tons per quarter.
“The performance was above the estimated quarter seaborne trade by 37.9 percent, the statement said in part. To speed up delivery of cargo, the government has reduced checkpoints from 23 to three checkpoints.
Reuters news agency reports that this has improved tremendously the transit time from Dar es Salaam to the Rwanda -Tanzana border post of Rusumo which now takes three days instead of the previous seven days.
In July 2016, the Rwandan President Paul Kagame visited Tanzania and expressed commitment of the entire business community to use the Dar es Salaam Port as their gateway for trade. The TPA Director General visited Rwanda and met the Rwandan Business Community to hear their views and challenges they face when using the port.
He promised to work with other stakeholders to address challenges raised during the discussion. He also said TPA was doing everything in its power to reduce the cost of doing business between the two countries.
Various measures have already been taken to improve efficiency at the port of Dar es Salaam and the Central corridor at large. Some of the improvements have included implementation of a 24×7 hours working week for all stakeholders in the port as well as the assurance of safety and security, Reutrs has reported.
TPA has also introduced E-payment system where customers can now receive invoices and pay all port charges electronically. This has reduced dramatically the amount of time it takes to effect payments.
In the meantime government efforts are in progress to construct a standard gauge railway system from the Dar es Salaam port to Kigali and the developing of a dry port at Isaka in order to enhance cargo clearance for Rwanda.
The World Bank has agreed to give Tanzania a $305 million loan to expand the port of Dar es Salaam located in the main commercial city. The loan is part of a $785 million loan from the Bank for development projects.
The Tanzania Finance and Planning Minister Philip Mpango recently said “the World Bank has agreed to give Tanzania loans for various development projects, including a credit of $305 million for an expansion project at the Dar es Salaam port.” he loan agreement was announced following talks between president Magufuli and Makhtar Diop, the World Bank’s vice president for Africa.
In a 2014 report, the World Bank said that inefficiencies at the Dar es Salaam port was costing Tanzania and its neighbours up to $2.6 billion annually. The Tanzania government hopes improvement at the port will increase capacity to 28 million tonnes a year by 2020 from the current 15 million tonnes capacity.