THE late president John Magufuli is credited for developing mega infrastructure projects to exploit the potential for growth and make Tanzania a leading regional trade and logistics hub.
The country's strategically positioned maritime industry is one of the area which benefitted from massive investment by government and development partners under his leadership.
The departed hero left indelible impression on ports development particularly on upgrading, expanding and constructing new ports in major water bodies in the country.
It is under his leadership Tanzanians witnessed massive financial investments on all major ports in the country from the principal port of Dar es Salaam to Mtwara and Tanga, including reviving some terminals in Lake Victoria that had ceased operation over 20 years ago.
When delivering his speech during the International Workers’ Day on May 1st, 2019 in Mbeya region, President Magufuli informed the public that the expansion of Dar es Salaam, Mtwara and Tanga ports would cost a whopping 2.2 tri/-.
According to President Magufuli, the expansion of the Dar es Salaam port alone would cost 1tri/-, while that of Tanga and Mtwara ports would cost 1.2 tri/-.
The major purpose of investing in the expansion, upgrading and constructing new ports is to exploit the advantage brought about by the country’s geographical position and its rich endowment in natural resources, including water bodies.
According to TPA Director General, Engineer Deusdedit Kakoko, TPA targets to transport 25 million tonnes of cargo by 2025. This will mean that Tanzania’s ports will be handling 50 per cent of cargo that’s destined for member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Currently, the country’s ports account for 25 per cent of all goods imported to the 16-member SADC bloc.
Achievements recorded so far
Dar es Salaam Port
The financial investment on Dar es Salaam port has improved its performance and helped to attract more shippers.
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.
Apart from constructing and improving the berths, TPA also dredged the anchorage sites and ship entry channel at the port to accommodate large vessels.
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.
The completion of Ro-Ro terminal has raised vehicle offloading capacity at the port from 163,000 to 600,000 cars, annually.
Reports also shows cargo volume handled by the principal port are 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.
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 infrastructures 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.
According to the Tanga Port Manager, Mr Ajuaye Msese 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 said 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 an affirmative action to renovate this port,” he said. Tanga port, which is the oldest serving terminal in 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/-.
According to the Mtwara Port Manager, 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.
The terminal is now set to increase cargo handling capacity from 400,000 tonnes per annum to 1,000,000 tonnes.
In exploiting Mtwara- Lindi coastline, TPA invested in development of Kilwa Masoko, Lindi and Rushungi ports in Lindi Region and Kisiwa Mgao port in Mtwara Region.
Lake Tanganyika ports
Through its Lake Tanganyika office, TPA until December 2019 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, said for the first time in the country’s history, the government through TPA had injected 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 formalizing some unofficial terminals (Cluster Ports) as per the TPA’s strategic plan.
Outlined strategic projects in Kigoma region include improvement or construction of port infrastructures 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 infrastructures 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 Kerando.
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 containerized cargo after offloading 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 reviving of the link span to enable containerized cargo to be transported to Kisumu in Kenya, Port Belly 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 and its revamping will restore its lost glory by allowing ferry wagons to play to the terminal. The rehabilitation of the 6.65 hectre 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 in Geita region and constructed a new one known as Magarini in Muleba district, Kagera region, simplifying further an access to Rubondo, Burigi Chato tourist destinations.
But, the list of ports in Lake Victoria may not be complete without mentioning Kemondo Bay and Bukoba ports.
Kemondo Bay ‘s name stands out from the rest in Kagera region as the 47-heactre 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 2019/2020 financial year started upgrading infrastructures 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 infrastructures 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 offloading of cargo.
Other infrastructures 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 per cent 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.