…importers, exporters pray for DRC entry into EAC bloc to brighten future
CONGOLESE importers and exporters who use the Dar es Salaam Port are expectant of bright future in their businesses, thanks to last week’s visit by their President Felix Tshisekedi.
During his two-day state visit, President Tshisekedi (pictured) had talks with his host, President John Magufuli, and the two leaders put emphasis on strengthening economic ties between the two countries, considering that the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) remains the major user of Dar es Salaam Port.
Through their association— Business Congolese International (BCI)—the traders have expressed optimism on DRC joining the East African Community (EAC), the issue that emerged during President Tshisekedi visit.
“We are happy that our country’s request to join the EAC bloc emerged and was discussed… this will ease doing business in the East African countries,” BCI Vice President John Kapeta told the ‘Daily News’ in Dar es Salaam over the weekend.
He cited some of the current t r a d e bar- riers that Congolese traders encounter as payment of road toll and visa because DRC is not EAC member.
“We will therefore save in transport costs if our country becomes EAC member,” he argued, adding that Congolese traders will even increase the number of routes unlike currently whereby traders have to travel from DR Congo to Tanzania only.
Mr Kapeta further supported Tanzania’s plan to introduce Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL) flights to DR Congo, saying the move will relieve Congolese traders with the burden of road transport, which is time consuming.
BCI President Mukendi Kabobu Godefroid said, “For us, the visit of our president is a big encouragement because Tanzania and DR Congo need to be strongly united, we are relatives.”
He described it as ideal for Tanzanians and Congolese to interact without visa to boost trade between the two countries, thanking the Tanzanian government for being attentive to concerns, which Congolese have been raising over the Dar es Salaam Port.
The association has as well embraced the government decision to scrap shipping line fees as announced by Finance and Planning Minister Dr Philip Mpango while tabling the national budget last week.
Meanwhile, Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) through Mtwara Port envisages becoming the main economic port for the southern zone and neighbouring countries upon completion of berth number two by the end of this year.
The berth, which the two Chinese contractors—China Railway Construction Engineering Group (CRCEG) and China Railway Major Bridge Engineering Group Co. Ltd (CRMBEG)—are constructing under the German Consultant Engineering Company of Inros Lackner, will cost the government 137.4bn/-.
Speaking at the project site yesterday, Mtwara Port Manager Engineer Juma Kijavara said upon the berth completion, its anchorage will have the capacity to handle over one million tonnes of cargo annually from its current 400,000-tonne capacity.
Engineer Kijavara said that since Mtwara Port has the natural depth of 13 metres during the low tide, the authority is determined to make it the main economic gateway to the southern zone and neighbouring countries—Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique— with big ships of up to 65,000 tonnes docking at the port.
Additionally, he said the port envisages serving over two million tonnes of cargo in the next five years. He said the strategy to make the port the main economic gateway to the southern zone complements the government efforts to connect the port with Mbamba Bay Port through ongoing constructions of modern roads to link Mtwara and other southern regions— Lindi and Ruvuma.
“The berth is 300 metres long and its construction has reached 52 per cent, when it’s completed at the end of this year, it will ably serve big ships of up to 65,000 tonnes compared to the current berth that serves ships with only 45,000-tonne capacity…the facility will also have a yard of 79,000 square metres,” said Engineer Kijavara.
According to the manager, the port, since its construction during the colonial era in 1953, handled a record 377,590 tonnes of cargo in the 2016/2017 fiscal year while in 2018/19 and 2014/15 years handled 363,286 and 296,577 tonnes, respectively.
The port manager further said that cashew nut—the main cash crop in the southern region—is the major cargo that the port handles annually, with Dangote cement ranked the port’s second main cargo.
He said the port also served by 100 per cent gas researches as the mechanics for the work have been built in the port.