DAR ES SALAAM: THE Dar es Salaam Port has witnessed a significant surge in cargo traffic, with the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) attributing the feat to a robust marketing drive both locally and internationally.
The number of ships calls at the country’s principal port increased to 317 calls between October and November last year, up from 274 ships calls recorded in the corresponding period in 2022.
The cargo handled at Dar es Salaam Port rose to 4,016,007 tonnes between October and November 2023, from 3,590,854 tonnes in the corresponding period in 2022, which is equivalent to an 11.8 per cent increase.
TPA’s Public Relations and Communication Manager, Nicodemus Mushi says the increased cargo traffic is blessing and not a curse, insisting that the port is operating at full capacity to provide the market needs of goods imported from overseas.
“We’re delighted to receive this large number of ships. We have conducted extensive local and international marketing campaigns to promote our ports and our efforts are paying off,” said Mr Mushi.
“Our goal in advertising has always been to attract more clients and we are grateful that an increasing number of customers are choosing our ports,” he added.
Mushi insisted that the increased cargo traffic confirms TPA’s maritime, operational, and logistics capabilities, as well as its efficiency, readiness, and capacity to receive the largest number of ships.
The Dar es Salaam Port has undergone a significant upgrade through the 357 million US dollars Dar es Salaam Maritime Gateway Project (DMGP).
Financed by the government of Tanzania jointly with the World Bank and the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the DMGP has supported the reconstruction of and deepening alongside berths 1–7 to 14.5 metres so the port can now comfortably host large vessels, compared to an average 8-meter draft before the expansion.
Mr Mushi says the upgrading has brought significant changes in operations at Dar Port, which plays a major role in the economies of the neighbouring countries of Burundi, Rwanda, Zambia, Malawi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
“We have successfully addressed previous challenges by dredging the entrance channel to international standards, achieving a depth of 14.5m. As a result, ships are now able to enter and depart smoothly, leading to an increase in the number of ships calling at our ports.
“Furthermore, we have expanded the turning base, with depths ranging from 14.5m to 15.5m. This expansion allows even larger container ships, such as Panamax and post-Panamax, to call at our port at any time,” he says.
In addition to these developments, Mushi notes that the Dar es Salaam Port has been serving major projects currently being undertaken by the country, including the East African Crude Oil Project (EACOP), the Julius Nyerere Hydropower Project (JNHP), and Standard Gauge Railways (SGR) Project.
“These major projects have become our major customers,” said Mr Mushi, adding it is also important to note that during the end-of-year holidays, the volume of cargo increases significantly.
“Most international markets offer special discounts on their goods during this time, as they aim to clear their stocks before the new year. This prompts Tanzanians and traders in neighbouring countries to make bulk procurements in order to sell to their markets during the holiday season,” he says.
In ensuring cargo handling efficiency amid rising cargo volumes, the TPA management has been taking a number of measures, such as working beyond regular hours.
“Recognising the challenges that come with increased cargo traffic, we have implemented deliberate measures. These measures include extending working hours and increasing shifts for our workers, allowing us to operate 24/7 throughout the holiday season,” says Mushi.
Mushi says the Ports Authority has equally been procuring and installing new cargo handling machines, equipment and technologies to ensure efficiency at all our ports.
“We are also collaborating closely with other service providers, such as banks, who will remain open during the end-of-year holidays. Furthermore, TRA and other government agencies are working around the clock to ensure there are no delays for port customers,” he adds.