PRIME Minister Kassim Majaliwa yesterday ordered Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA), Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) and Tanzania Shipping Agencies Corporation (TASAC) to effectively link their systems to ensure smooth operations at the Dar es Salaam Port.
That was after his impromptu visit to the port following complaints from customers and some Members of Parliament that it was poorly performing, despite being the country’s chief harbour.
In the course, he ordered the authorities at the port to ensure all systems are functional and enable timely clearing of cargo and related businesses as planned.
“We are competing with other ports in this region, we are therefore supposed to act smart and ensure smooth operations, we need to attract more clients and maintain the existing ones,” pointed Mr Majaliwa.
Equally, the Premier stressed on hard work, transparency and trust among the employees as they serve clients who also come from outside the country, saying: “I have counted 14 vessels that are waiting to dock, I need to know why it is taking time to clear them, we need to do something otherwise we are going to lose businesses.”
Earlier, the Minister for Works, Transport and Communications, Eng Leonard Chamuriho said TPA is progressing well with its improvements, especially in infrastructure to increase its capacity in han dling cargoes.
He said the authority is also improving its clearing systems and that soon things will be in order.
Clarifying, TPA Director General Erick Hamis said most of the vessels were waiting for documents’ clearance before proceeding with offloading of their cargoes, adding that TPA works with other authorities such as TRA, TASAC among others, where everyone plays its role to ensure speedy clearance is attained.
Elaborating, he noted that TPA in collaboration with other authorizes were concentrating on addressing challenges facing them on the ground, where TRA Commissioner, Mr Alphayo Kidata on his side, said his office at the site experienced a system breakdown after one of the devices bugged as a result of electric short-circuit.
“Fortunately enough, the problem was fixed within five hours, though resulted in a heavy congestion at the port. Losing one hour at the port means losing money and delay of services to our clients, we are doing everything in our capacity to ensure such a thing does not crop up again,” he added.
In response, Mr Majaliwa said he will make another tour at the port to see if his directives are implemented, warning: “You will be surprised when I come here for another inspection… I must find things moving; otherwise I will walk out with everything including computers.”
For the sudden inspection, the Premier was forced travelled from Dodoma to intervene on the cargo standoff at the Dar es Salaam Port that was causing uproar in parliament after the legislators demanded immediate actions to save the country’s economy.
The Minister of State, Prime Minister’s Office (Policy, Parliamentary Affairs, Labour, Employment, Youth and the Disabled), Jenister Mhagama, said the government was working on the problem at the country’s largest port.
For five consecutive days, there have been cargo standoffs at the Dar es Salaam port, witnessed by convoys of trucks stranded with claims that they are waiting for their cargo clearance.
Assuring the lawmaker, Ms Mhagama said the Prime Minister was expected to address the matter yesterday after arriving at the site. She noted that Mr Majaliwa would receive a report on what took place after the legislators demanded the government issues a statement on the matter.
Immediately after the questions and answers session yesterday, Mafinga Urban legislator, Cosato Chumi (CCM) stood up and requested the Deputy Speaker, Dr Tulia Ackson, to postpone businesses in the House for one hour to discuss the Dar es Salaam Port’s saga, describing it as an urgent matter.
In her ruling, Dr Tulia gave the legislators 20 minutes to debate the Mafinga Urban MP’s crucial motion, where Mr Chumi further argued that that the port, being the country’s economic engine, paralysing its business was tantamount to killing the economy and other businesses in the country.
He further said that some of the equipment for the country’s major projects like SGR were unnecessarily stuck at the port.
On his side, Singida East legislator, Miraji Mtaturu (CCM) said delaying cargo at the country’s major port pose adverse negative impacts to the country’s businesses.
Commenting, Special Seats MP, Sophia Mwakagenda (CHADEMA) said that the government should thoroughly investigate on what was going on at the port and take stern measures against officials, who were trying to sabotage the country’s economy.
On his part, Mlimba Member of Parliament, Godwin Kunambi (CCM) asked the Minister for Works and Transport to issue a statement in the House on the issue, advising equally that there was a need to solve all administrative issues within the management of the port.
Equally, Special Seats MP, Ester Matiko (CHADEMA), reminded fellow legislators on the pledge made by President Samia Suluhu Hassan when addressing them and calling for the increase in business at the Dar es Salaam Port.