Karema Port cements Tanzania’s position as shipping hub

Karema Port cements Tanzania’s position as shipping hub

TANZANIA’s ports infrastructure development is set to hit a new milestone with the commissioning of the newly-constructed Karema Port on Lake Tanganyika in Katavi Region next month.

The landmark project, implemented by the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA), has reached 85 per cent construction completion and according to consultant -- Inter Consult Ltd, it will be completed by May 20, this year and commence operations in June, 2022.

“The project started in October, 2019 and I am delighted to say that we have reached a very good stage, we’re very optimistic that this scheme will be completed as scheduled, May 20, 2022,” says Inter Consult Ltd Assistant Resident Engineer Elisante Urassa.

The Karema Port is being constructed by China’s Xiamen Ongoing Construction Group and will cost a total of 47.9bn/- upon completion. A 22,500 square metre heavy duty pavement and tides breaker are almost complete, currently at 98 per cent each.

The construction of a multipurpose 150m berth to accommodate vessels of up to 75 metres in length and 15 widths is also at 98 per cent. The dredging and deepening of the port entrance to 4.5meter has reached 40 per cent while the construction of an office building, passenger lounge and a general cargo warehouse has reached 60 per cent.

“We’re also finalizing the installation of an ICT network and security system, water supply, storage and wastewater treatment system,” Eng Elisante says.

The government has already dished out 31.18bn/-, about 65 per cent of the total cost, to the contractor of the project. Once completed, Karema Port will be a node in a new trade corridor connecting southern parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Burundi to the Dar es Salaam Port.

Speaking about the project, Lake Tanganyika Ports Manager, Mr Manga Gassaya, said the new terminal holds the key to Tanzania’s maritime strategy.

He was grateful to President Samia Suluhu Hassan for realising the importance of this strategic sector to the country’s economic development and position as a key trade hub in Africa.

Mr Gassaya says the government has continuously demonstrated huge commitment towards improving the maritime sector in the country by releasing funds for upgrading of existing ports or building new terminals. The completion of the terminal will see Tanzania cement her place as a key maritime link in the Great Lakes region and enhance the country’s position in the regional supply chain.

The port, whose construction goes hand in hand with the construction of Kalemie Port in the Democratic Republic of Congo, will specifically help Tanzania expand her wings in the lucrative DRC market. Mr Gassaya says the government decided to construct the new Karema Port to exploit the untapped great potential of a cross-border trade with DR Congo, a new entrant in the East African Community (EAC) bloc.

“We want to serve the Democratic Republic of Congo through a single border; it is our expectation that this new, modern port will meet the demands of our customers in DR Congo,” said Mr Gassaya.

“We’re following up with great interest the expansion of Kalemie Port, and in fact, we have plans to build a dry port on the DR Congo side for smooth facilitation of freight shipment,” he added.

He believes that the upgrading and enhancement of the Central Corridor will help Tanzania increase its market share in the mine belt and other cargoes from DRC and Republic of Burundi. According to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade, Tanzania exports to Congo stood at 207.23 million US dollars during 2021.

Karema Port’s initial capacity is 1million tonnes of cargo annually and according to Mr Gassaya there is a room for expanding the capacity up to 3 million tonnes, since the TPA has acquired the area measuring 66 acres.

Located on the eastern shore of the Lake Tanganyika in Katavi Region, 120km from Mpanda and 230km from Kigoma Port, the new Karema Port, will be linked with a standard gauge railway to be constructed from Mpanda District, with the government finalizing plans to construct a road to the port.

“Thanks to H.E Samia Suluhu Hassan, for her decision and directives that, a new SGR line would have to be constructed which would branch off at Kaliua and head to Karema in order to target markets is south eastern DRC and Burundi,” remarks the manager.

He adds that the completion of the heavy-duty road will make the terminal a proper gateway for the DR Congo and Burundi to the Asian markets through the Dar es Salaam port.

Mr Gassaya is adamant that, once operational, the terminal would be a game changer for the economies of Katavi Region, neighbouring Kigoma and Rukwa regions and the country at large.

According to Mr Gassaya, three shipping agencies have already inquired about the possibility of shipping cargoes through Karema Port.

“We’re optimistic this port will attract more exporters and importers, and we are warmly inviting them to this modern port on Lake Tanganyika,” says the manager.

He says it is important for customers to make route analysis in order to cut transportation costs.

“All over the world waterborne transport is much easier compared to other models of transportation.”

“I can assure our potential customers, who would like to use our Karema Port and other terminals on Lake Tanganyika, that they will get the best services at reduced time and cost,” says Gassaya.

A considerable size of Tanzania’s exports that end up in DRC, Zambia and Burundi is transported by road but Gassaya believes that the construction of Karema Port will make the export and import businesses grow on Lake Tanganyika.

Gassaya says the completion of the Karema Port project will attract more investments in Mpanda, open up job and trade opportunities in Katavi Region.

Residents in neighbouring villages are already seizing trade opportunities brought by the Karema Port project, where fishermen and farmers sell their produce to the construction workers.

The much-awaited commissioning of Karema Port will certainly turn Katavi and Rukwa regions a production hub for agricultural produce for the DRC, Zambia and Burundi markets.

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