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Historic investment in port infrastructure

Dar es Salaam Port

THE financial investment  poured on Dar es Salaam harbour by the fifth phase government under President Magufuli has improved the performance of the terminal, a factor that has attracted more traders to use the terminal.

Through Dar es Salaam Maritime Gateway Project (DMGP), TPA threw its weight into the construction and improvement of eight berths, including Roll-on Roll-Off (Ro-Ro), which is sometimes known as Berth  Zero.

The construction of Ro-Ro terminal and Berths 1, 2, 3 and 4 is complete and the construction of Berths 5, 6 and 7 is ongoing and according to Minister for Works, Transport and Communication Eng Isack Kamwelwe the work will be completed in October this year.

Apart from constructing and improving the berths, TPA also dredged the anchorage sites at the port to accommodate larger vessels and now plans are underway to dredge the ship entry channel near Kigamboni, to allow mega cargo ships to pass to the docking sites at Dar es Salaam harbor.

The positive impact of constructing and improving berths, including dredging the docking sites started becoming visible at the end of last year, after Dar es Salaam port received the first ship—MV Grand Duke Panama with 6,000-vehicle carrying capacity but with 1,347 cars onboard.

The completion of Ro-Ro terminal, according to Minister Kamwelwe will enable Dar es Salaam port to have its vehicle offloading capacity raised from 163,000 to 600,000 cars, annually.

Not only Dar es Salaam port’s vehicle offloading capacity  has been  raised following the improvement of its berths  but  reports show cargo handled by the principal port is also surging.

According to the Consolidated Zonal Economic Performance Report issued at the end of last year by the Bank of Tanzania (BoT)  for the quarter that ended March last year, the volume of cargo handled at the Dar es Salaam port grew by 2.3 per cent to 3 .9 million tonnes compared to 3.8 million tonnes registered in the corresponding quarter in 2018.  


Tanga Port

When someone documents the history of ports in the country and in East Africa, Tanga Port is one of the terminals that quickly comes to mind.

It is currently the second largest gateway and one of the longest serving terminals in Tanzania after Dar es Salaam Port, as history shows it was constructed in 1888 during German colonial rule.

Unfortunately, despite its abundant history, Tanga Port’s infrastructure have never been developed since the first phase government under Mwalimu Julius Nyerere. 

Information available shows Tanga Port’s infrastructures were developed for the last time in 1954 and its berth 1 and 2  ship and entrance channel have never allowed mega cargo ships to anchor at the port to offload cargo due to shallow depth.

Tanga Port Manager, Mr Ajuaye Msese spoke to the ‘Daily News’ recently, saying the operations at the port, especially in handling cargo ferried by medium and large scale ships, proved to be a bit costly, as vessels were forced to anchor about 1.7 kilometre away from the port (outer anchorage).

From the outer anchorage, cargo was then hauled to the berth by budges and tug boats, a practice that ended up increasing operational cost that was placed on traders and then passed on to consumers.

Cognizant of the problem, TPA came up with an affirmative action to upgrade the port with specific focus on accommodating large cargo vessels, including car carriers.  The aim is the gateway into the high competitive terminal, serving customers in the country and  East African and Great Lakes regions as the plan now was to have a 12-metre depth berth from the current 5 metres.

Mr Msese says the major activities involved in upgrading Tanga Port include dredging the depth of the berths and the ship entrance channel.   

China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) is implementing the project whose first phase that costs 170bn/-is expected to last for 12 months. Project implementation kicked off on October 04, 2019. 

“The fifth phase government deserves compliments for taking affirmative action to renovate this port,” he said. Tanga port, which is the oldest serving terminal in the East African region, had its first berth built in 1888 during Germany colonial rule, while the second one was built in 1954.

TPA Director General, Engineer Kakoko says Tanga port is geographically located at the place where it could  offer quality services to customers in several regions in the country’s hinterland, northern, central and Lake zones.

Given the connectivity with railway and roads the port could  also handle cargo destined for Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, eastern parts of DR Congo, Malawi and Zambia.  

He said, upon completion of the upgrading work traders will no doubt, opt to use the terminal as it will be able to offer world-class services. Future plans would  also involve construction of a passenger terminal and a modern Single Mooring Point (SPM) for oil cargo.TPA also upgraded the berth at Pangani Port.

Upgrading Mtwara Port

Like Dar es Salaam and  Tanga ports, Mtwara terminal has been undergoing major facelift with the construction of the new berth and cargo storage yard.

The project  is  being implemented through a joint venture of two Chinese firms- M/S China Railway Construction Engineering Group( CRCEG) and China Railway Major Bridge Engineering Group (CRMBEG)-at the tune of 137bn/-.

Mtwara Port Manager, Engineer Juma Kijavara spoke recently, saying  the new berth with a length of 300 metres and 13.5-metre depth (draft) would  have the capacity to accommodate mega cargo ships weighing 65,000 tonnes.

Before the expansion work, the port was accommodating  cargo ships with 40,000 tonnes (Dead Weight–DWT).  

According to Engineer Kijavara, the  modern multipurpose cargo terminal will be  capable of delivering quality services to the southern regions– Lindi, Mtwara and Ruvuma but with specific focus on serving the neighbouring countries in the southern African region-Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia. However, he said, the government’s future plan on Mtwara Port is to have four berths. 

The terminal is now set  to increase cargo handling capacity from 400,000 tonnes per annum to 1,000,000 tonnes. Mtwara Port, which is described as the natural harbor, is a strategic port for the country given its geographical position.  

In exploiting Mtwara-Lindi coastline, TPA also threw its weight into  large-scale investment on four ports of Kilwa Masoko, Lindi and Rushungi in Lindi Region and Kisiwa Mgao in Mtwara Region.

Ports in Lake Victoria, Tanganyika and Nyasa

In its affirmative action to improve ports in the country, terminals found in the three major Lakes of Victoria, Tanganyika and Nyasa are also included.

Lake Tanganyika ports

Through its Lake Tanganyika office, TPA until last December had planned to spend 123.34bn/-in upgrading and constructing its terminals in the second deepest Lake in the world.

Kigoma Port Manager who is also in charge of all other ports in Lake Tanganyika, Mr Percival Salama, spoke recently, saying for the first time in the country’s history, the government through TPA had injected a total of 123.345bn/-between 2016/17 and 2019/20 financial years, to build new ports and upgrade the existing infrastructures of some terminals.

“Due to improvements in railway transport in the country, including the implementation of Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), ongoing revamping of  ships by Marine Services Company (MSCL) and an increase in transport demand by traders from DR Congo, Burundi and within the Lake Tanganyika zone, TPA came up with a total of 27 port projects which are either under implementation or have already been completed,” he said.

According to Mr Salama, the projects that have been implemented or are still under implementation are found in all the regions in the zone- Kigoma, Katavi and Rukwa. In implementing the projects TPA focuses on establishing a major port in each region, including formalising some unofficial terminals (Cluster Ports) as per the TPA’s strategic plan.

Outlined strategic projects in Kigoma Region include improvement or construction of port infrastructure at Kibirizi area (Kibirizi Port), Ujiji area (Ujiji Port) and the headquarters of the Port Manager.  The projects, whose implementation period is 24 months,  are carried out by China Railway Corporation at the cost of  32.525bn/-

At Kibirizi Port, a 250-metre berth in length, three cargo shades, passengers’ lounge, an office building and other supporting infrastructure to enable small vessels including engine-powered dhows to dock and undock, will be built.

Likewise, at Ujiji Port, a modern berth of 110 metres in length, canteen, passengers’ lounge and cargo shade will be constructed.

Another project carried out in Kigoma region is the construction of Katosho Dry Port, a 2.9bn/-undertaking that is aimed at decongesting ports located in Kigoma.

An already completed Kagunga Port project that took on board three components is another major strategic project in Kigoma rural as the terminal, whose cost is estimated to be 4.09bn/-, involved the construction of a modern international market building, a 700-metre stretch (road) and a berth. According to Mr Salama, Kagunga is the strategic border area that attracted traders from DR Congo and Burundi.

In Uvinza District, TPA  built a berth at Lagosa area (Lagosa Port).  A cargo shade, passengers’ lounge, office building and other supporting infrastructures.

He said the construction of Lagosa Port would enable MV Liemba to dock at the berth, instead of docking in the outer anchorage, a practice that  increased the cost of doing business for traders and caused inconveniences to passengers using the oldest and tourist ship in Tanzania.  

Another project carried out by TPA in Kigoma is the construction of a terminal at Kalya area, which is known as Sibwesa Port. According to Mr Salama,  Sibwesa Port project is complete.  In Rukwa Region, TPA is improving infrastructures at Kasanga, Kipili and Kabwe ports with the Authority looking on how it can invest at another port of Kirando.

Speaking on Kasanga port, which is the second largest port in Lake Tanganyika after Kigoma terminal, Mr Salama said TPA was implementing a 4.764bn/-project that involved lengthening its berth from 20 to 120 metres to enable more than one ship to dock at once and building residential houses for TPA staff.

The terminal would  also have its open cargo storage area (wharf), reinforced to keep loose and containerised cargo after unloading from ships.

At Kipili port which is found in Nkasi district, close to 5bn/-has been spent to improve its infrastructure. According to Mr Salama, the terminal is strategically located to serve traders from both DR Congo and Tanzania.

TPA’s investment at Kabwe Port in Nkasi District that amounts to 7.498bn/-, according to Mr Salama, would  attract ships to ply to the terminal as currently, only engine-powered boats and dhows travel to the area.

In Katavi Region, TPA is building a port at Karema (Karema port), in Tanganyika District at the cost of 47.924bn/.  It will be the major regional terminal.  The terminal’s improvement will involve the construction of berth, cargo shade, warehouse, passengers’ lounge and break waters. The terminal which will be reachable by railway from Mpanda, will be completed next  year to connect Dar es Salaam and Tanga ports.

Kagunga terminal project was also one of the undertakings implemented by TPA through its Office in Lake Tanganyika zone. It was completed last October.  

Lake Victoria ports

In Lake Victoria, TPA is implementing a number of port projects to exploit to the maximum the potential brought about by the Lake, given the fact that historically Tanzania had, before the collapse of the former East African Community (EAC), established transport links with Uganda and Kenya through the defunct firm-East African Railway Corporation.

To exploit Lake Victoria potential, TPA has invested in the rehabilitation of Mwanza South and Mwanza North  ports in Mwanza Region.

The rehabilitation of Mwanza South Port involved the revival of the link span to enable containerized cargo to be transported to Kisumu in Kenya, Port Bell in Uganda or even to Musoma port and Kemondo Bay port in Kagera Region by ferry wagons.  

According to Mwanza Port Manager, Mr  Morris Mchindiuza, Musoma port had ceased operations more than ten years ago and its revamping will restore its lost glory by allowing ferry wagons to play to the terminal. The rehabilitation of the 6.65 hectare Musoma port is expected to be completed next month at the cost of  650m/-.

Given the length of the coastline of Lake Victoria, TPA through its Mwanza Office resolved to construct new ports and revive the abandoned ones. For instance in Buchosa Council, Sengerema District, TPA built a cluster port (small port) at Kanyala Village, whose operations began last December.

The 1.265bn/-project involved construction of the 60-metre jetty (berth), cargo warehouse, passengers’ lounge, toilets and the office for security personnel.

Furthermore, the Authority has revived Nyamirembe port in Chato, Geita Region and constructed a new one known as Magarini in Muleba district, Kagera Region, simplifying further access to Rubondo, Burigi Chato tourist destinations.

But, the list of ports in Lake Victoria may not be complete without mentioning Kemondo Bay and Bukoka ports.

Kemondo Bay‘s name stands out from the rest in Kagera Region as the 47-hectare port is built with infrastructures that support the use of wagon ferries, meaning that cargo can be transported from Dar es Salaam by railway up to Mwanza  where the wagons can be transferred into the wagon ferries before being shipped to Bukoba, Musoma, Uganda or Kisumu in Kenya.

The renovation of Kemondo Bay Port goes simultaneously with the improvement of  Bukoba Port’s infrastructure. Bukoba terminal, which was constructed in 1945, is meant to handle both passenger and loose cargo ships.   

Lake Nyasa ports

Given the fact that TPA also operates all ports in Lake Nyasa, the Authority in the 2019/2020 financial year started upgrading infrastructure of some terminals,    including constructing some ports for the major objective of improving marine transport in the third largest and second deepest Lake in Africa.

According to Lake Nyasa Ports Manager, Mr Abed Gallus, TPA was upgrading  infrastructure of Ndumbi terminal in Nyasa District, Ruvuma Region and expanding Kiwira Port in Kyela District, Mbeya Region.

The project on Ndumbi Port involves the construction of a permanent berth to enable cargo ships dock and undock comfortably, including facilitating loading and unloading of cargo.

Other infrastructure to be built at Ndumbi Port include a jetty, ramp, open storage area with a hard surface measuring 9,000 square metres for keeping cargo, fence, office block and a staff house.

China Henan International Corporation Group (CHICO) was undertaking the 12.25bn/-project, which is expected to be implemented in 22 months.  Ndumbi Port is one of the major terminals in Lake Nyasa as it handles over 90 percent of all cargo handled by TPA in the zone.

Another project which is divided into two segments, according to Mr Gallus, is the expansion of Kiwira port, a terminal which is strategically upgraded to handle cargo.  

To be able to serve Malawi, Mozambique, including the regions such as Ruvuma and Mtwara TPA last year started conducting a feasibility study on how to rebuild Mbamba Bay Port in Nyasa district, Ruvuma region .The report on the study would  be submitted to the Authority this  year.  

So much has been done by TPA in improving marine transport  and transportation in the country. Efforts focusing on reviving small ports are being made, including formalizing unofficial terminals.

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