Experts insist on private investment in ports

WITH the current high competition among regional ports, maritime industry experts have seconded what they described as the government’s worthwhile decision to invite private investors to invest in the development of the country’s ports.

In separate interviews with the ‘Daily News’ this week, they pointed out reasons as to why the country’s port infrastructures modernisation is a must to ensure more quality services in the East African Region, hinting that the port has a great chance to win over its competitors.

Marine Service Company Limited’s (MSCL) Managing Director, Mr Eric Hamissi said port efficiency is crucial in boosting economic production, arguing that more imports and exports are key indicators of economic growth.

He said further improvement of infrastructures at the Dar es Salaam Port among others will cut time and costs spent on imports and exports, hence boosting growth of the national economy.

Mr Hamissi said with regard to the country’s strategic geographical location, the Dar es Salaam Port can better serve as the gateway to all land-linked countries of Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Malawi, Rwanda and Burundi than any competing neighboring ports.

He, thus, seconded the government’s efforts to invite private investors with vast experience to deploy the latest machinery and technologies to boost efficiency and operations at the country’s ports, especially the principal port of Dar es Salaam.

“Many countries with best port practice today use Public Private Partnership (PPP) and they cherish private investors,” Mr Hammisi said, insisting that the government would remain watchful to ensure the country reaps benefits from the investments.

An economist, Dr Isaac Safari from Saint Augustine University of Tanzania (SAUT) said well-operating ports can maximise government revenues due to the quality services delivery.

Dr Safari said the revenue collected from the port sector can contribute massively to the government coffers and enable it to implement other development projects and social service delivery such as water and electricity supply.

“With improved port infrastructures the country can collect over a half of its budget from the ports,” he said, welcoming the decision to engage private investors who would bring in modern port equipment and technologies.

He commended the government for initiating the Inter-governmental Agreement (IGA) with the DP World, a Dubai Emirate-based shipment company and called for continued public education on the details of the agreement since it is important for citizens to be informed.

Over the weekend, the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi’s (CCM) Central Committee passed three resolutions in support of port improvements in the country.

According to a statement released by the party’s Ideology and Publicity Secretary, Ms Sophia Mjema, the CC meeting chaired by the party’s chairperson Dr Samia Suluhu Hassan, underscored that investment and operation of the ports must be for the national interest as per the CCM 2020-2025 Election Manifesto.

“The government must speed up public education on the relevance of the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) between Tanzania and Dubai in boosting efficiency of the ports,” Ms Mjema said in the statement.

According to surveys, low capacity for cargo clearance and poor cargo handling capacity are among the main setbacks that need to be addressed for smooth operation of the country’s ports.

Meanwhile, the Port Improvement Committee (P.I.C) and stakeholders meeting held earlier this week established that the renovation of Tanga Port has reduced the offloading days from 3 days to 0.8 days.

In the 2021/2022 financial year the port had a target of handling 714,800 tons of cargo but it surpassed its target by serving 986,000 tons.

The port is now capable of receiving larger vessels 200 metres long and above.

According to the performance report of Tanga Port, in the period of six months—January to June 2023—the port has received 88 ships offloading 525,400 tons which is above the target of serving 65 ships.

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