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Improved ports attract more cargo, bolster earnings

Improved ports attract more cargo, bolster earnings

EXPANSION and improvement of Tanzania’s sea ports of Dar es Salaam, Tanga and Mtwara has evidently started attracting more customers, especially those from neighbouring countries to park and ship their consignment.

This has seen more revenues which is a form of cargo handling and that affects the entire value chain in road and railway infrastructures. However, one improvement and other competitive advantage for transporters using Tanzania ports is not being said.

This is safety, security of trucks, cargo itself and that of its transporters. Yes, it is to be recalled that Tanzania, which shares her borders with eight other countries, has no recent record of highway hijacking and robbery.

This means, a track transporting consignment from a given sea port, towards a certain border post, is assured of reaching without any threat to the vehicle itself or driver and other operators. This includes even in case of breakdown incidents.

The Deputy Acting Director General of  Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA), Mr Karim Mataka, revealed before members of the parliament that currently, South Sudan is eyeing to start using Tanzania’s ports for its consignment.

Mr Mataka who was speaking to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Infrastructure that visited Dar es Salaam Port this week, said that transporters from various countries were using Tanzania for their importing and exports not only due to improved efficiency, but the issues of safety and security were at the priority.

Other countries relying on Dar es Salaam and other ports, include the giant Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Uganda, Zambia, Malawi, some parts of Mozambique, the Comoros and East Africa’s small sized countries of Rwanda and Burundi.

“TPA has an initiative that is not only assuring the safety of transporters, but also is ensuring that illegal cargoes are not finding their way into Tanzania and crossing to other countries. This includes forbidden cargoes, smuggled goods and illicit abused drugs. We believe this is one of the reasons even Southern Sudan is contemplating turning to this way,” Mr Mtaka Explained.

In collaboration with the Tanzania Police force, explains Mr Mataka, there are a good number of sniffing dogs which are used to detect any cocaine or presence of government trophies which might be secretly hidden in containers being shipped.

Also, TPA operates and runs modern scanners which are capacitated to detect every item enclosed in containers if they are the ones declared or not.

“The government’s heavy investment to improve performance of Dar es Salaam, Tanga and Mtwara ports. This has been attracting more foreign customers and of recent, traders from South Sudan have greatly shown their interest, of Which TPA is very ready and capacitated,” says Mr Mataka.

Already the government has formed a committee involving actors from the transportation sectors, which is jointly addressing all hurdles faced by transport to and from different sea ports, and the committee would advise the government better on how the ports would smoothen local and foreign cargo handling including that of South Sudan.

“If we have a smooth moving railway system and cargo ferry/ship within Lake Victoria, we will handle more cargo to South Sudan through Uganda. In fact, by smoothing water transportation in different lakes, it means more countries will choose Tanzania’s ports and increase revenues from shipping goods,” Mr Mataka insisted.

He elaborated that the formed committee is involving members from Tanzania Railway Corporation, Tanzania National Roads Agency, Tanzania Revenue Authority, Tanzania Bureau of Standards and those from security organs.

Apart from ensuring safety and security to port users and transporters, the committee looks to address hurdles faced by transporters to smoothen their activities. Improvement has been evidenced which includes eliminating repetitive weighbridge measurement among truck transporters, where now all foreign trucks do measure only twice, at the start of the journey and near exit border points.

Mr Seleman Kakoso on behalf of his fellow parliamentary standing committee members hailed TPA and the government for continuing efforts, and advised for continued creativity for the country’s ports to remain number one choice for eastern and southern African countries.

“TPA has to improve its marketing department and have staff training which is being done elsewhere to lure more customers and retain the current ones,” he said.

Expressing his happiness of the security and safety promoted by TPA, Mr Kakoso insisted that in nowhere customers’ goods must be safer all the time from the ship to trucks and to final destination and that it was for TPA to ensure that illicit drugs and illegal cargoes are not entering Tanzania's borders.

Deputy Minister for Transport and Works, Mr Atupelle Mwakibete hailed TPA for improving efficiency which has led to increase of cargo handled and almost meeting set targets of cargo and revenues for the current financial year. The deputy minister also challenged TPA to increase creativity and ensure they lure more customers to opt for Tanzania's ports in their import and export cargoes.

“It is a good thing that you are working on a daily basis to increase efficiency by having one working online computer system software, it is a high time TPA be creative and come up with best ways of speeding up its cargo handling processes.”

According to TPA Director General Mr Eric Hamissi the Authority was on track to hitting the target of handling 18 million tonnes of cargo and earning 1tri/- for the 2021/2022 financial year.

He expressed gratitude to President Samia Suluhu Hassan for approving up to 500bn/- for purchasing tools.

“This has improved efficiency where cargo handling capacity has tremendously increased,” he said.

Apart from purchasing modern tools for loading and unloading cargoes, the director general also said that currently, TPA was in the final touch of introducing a new online system, which will be accessed by all of the 32 government authorities with different roles in importing and exporting cargoes.

“This will minimise time for our customers and will make all ports activities be overseen concurrently and hence, reduce tediousness,” he said.

Mr Hamissi also said that next steps being undertaken by TPA, are improving business strategy to lure more foreign customers to use the country’s ports which are safe, speedy and secure compared to those of foreign land.

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Author: JAMES KAMALA

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