Kabwe Port lifts cross-border trade

THE construction of Kabwe Port on Lake Tanganyika has lifted cross-border trade between Tanzania and land-linked countries, particularly the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Burundi.

Farmers and local entrepreneurs told the ‘Daily News’ on Sunday that since the construction of the port, there has been an increase in money circulation and lifted the livelihood among Nkasi dwellers due to improved trade.

“More traders from within and outside Tanzania are now buying food crops and ferry them to DRC, Burundi and Kigoma, our economies have improved,” Julius Kagosha, a maize and cassava grower, said.

He said before the construction of the port, they were struggling to access reliable markets, but now buyers are coming to their area, hence guaranteeing farmers markets for their produce.

“Now we don’t have to travel to Sumbawanga town or to coastal towns to sell our crops, buyers are coming to Nkasi,” said the father of three.

Vumilia Salum, who buys cassava from Nkasi and supplies the commodity to her markets in Kigoma Region, commended the government for improving water transportation, which is cheaper compared to other transport models.

“I have been doing this business for almost ten years now and we’re grateful to the government for constructing this port, which has eased business,” she said, noting that TPA charges are fair. They pay 7000/- for each ton.

Kabwe Port averages 1,200 tonnes of cargo and 400 passengers a month, with a larger per cent destined for DRC.

Suleiman Mohamed, a truck owner, who transports cargo to DR Congo, said the construction of Kabwe Port has improved business and hailed TPA’s customer services, but called for the improvement of road to the port.

“There is good customer service and businesses are performing well, but we are asking relevant authorities to improve the road that links the port with the Katavi-Rukwa highway, once this road is improved, we’ll do more business,” he stated.

Mohamed also called for timely issuance of permits to traders who transport food crops to DRC, saying the delay increased the costs of doing business.

Kabwe Port, whose construction started on April 2, 2018, was officially commissioned in April 2020, with the government through the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) coughing up 7.49bn/- for the project.

It takes 6-7 hours from Kabwe Port to Kalemie Port in DR Congo on the western shores of Lake Tanganyika.

The port with a cargo shade, passenger lounge, refurbished offices and 5.5 metres deep berths, which allow big boats to dock, also serves a key gateway for traders as well as farmers to supply cassava, maize, rice, sugar to Moba Port in DRC which is about 24 kilometres.

Before the construction of Kabwe Port, the cross-border trade was conducted in small-scale along the lake shore, typically on smaller wooden vessels.

With the new port, big vessels with more loading capacity dock at the port boosting trade with the neighbouring countries.

Traders no longer travel all the way to Kigoma to ferry their produce to DRC and Burundi.

Kabwe Port Officer Said Bakari says during peak times, the port handles about 30 trucks on average.

Lake Tanganyika Ports Manager Mr Edward Mabula said the TPA has set lower tariffs for its customers at Kabwe Port.

He added that the port has enhanced safety and security for traders, passengers and their properties and reiterated the TPA’s commitment to build modern port facilities across the country and to provide quality services to customers.

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