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TPA equipping, expanding Lake  Tanganyika Ports win hearts

TPA equipping, expanding Lake Tanganyika Ports win hearts

TANZANIA Port Authority (TPA) is revisiting some of its tariffs especially on ports along Lake Tanganyika in a bid to increase their competitive edge.

In the course, TPA also said wants to establish cooperation with neighbouring ports in Lake Tanganyika, for instance the Kigoma one and Kalemiè in DR-Congo, Port of Mpulungu in Zambia and Bujumbura Port in Burundi.

the revelation, TPA Director of Corporate Planning Dr Boniphace Nobeji said they are also working on increasing their capacity by expanding and equipping lake ports with modern handling equipment, especially the Kigoma one.

“We want to increase the cargo volumes to port of Kalemiè through Kigoma port…hence we will revisit some port charges to make Kigoma competitive,” Dr Nobeji said on behalf of TPA Director General, during the second Lake Tanganyika Investment and Business Summit last week. “We are yet to decide anything yet but we will sit down and discuss the level of the port charge to be revisited for lake ports after this summit,” he said.

However, the director said for sure cargoe cubic metre (CBM) measurement will be taken from a single source. For instance if Dar or Tanga port documented the consignment CBM, all other ports will rely on that data, instead of measuring twice at each port. “This CBM issue starts immediately and some ports publicity will be printed in French and Swahili to broaden information outreach,” Dr Nobeji said.

The decision to revisit Lake Tanganyika charges come immediately after TPA heard some challenges raised by its customers especially from the DR-Congo side.

Reached for a comment, several stakeholders said Kigoma port has the potential to double its handling capacity, but only being held back by poor road and railway infrastructures, which the government works day and night to improve.

Another bottleneck is availability of wagons from Tanzania Railway Corporation (TRC) as one allocated two against demand of 10 thus increasing delays at Kigoma port, some cases up to six months, something TPA is address and prompting the authority’s Director of Corporate Planning Dr Boniphace Nobeji to apologise and committing to urgently work on.

A DRC oil importer, Nondo Ibrahim, who is also the chairman of the Kalemi Oil Trader Association said for instance that Kigoma Port is charging handling fee to discharge fuel from a truck tanker that goes directly to ship-tanker while no port equipment are used. He added, “Please remove this handling charge(s) since no TPA equipment are used.

Another DRC trader Kilima Baruani also said the port officers are applying double measures on their consignments, despite having labels to identify CBM volume.

“Document shows that a container CBM is 64 but at Kigoma it is measured and assigned a new volume CBM 84...I have seen this only at Kigoma Port,” Mr Baruani said.

In response, TPA official said the concerns of DR Congo traders are good feedback and will work on them including the vexing charges, especially of handling fees to discharge oil from a truck to a ship.

On his part, TPALake Tanganyika Ports Manager Manga Gassaya said the port has so far received from the government some 210bn/- for advancement in acquiring port equipment to improve cargo handling.

“The fund was used to purchase a 45 tonnes Reach Stacker and two forklifts… “Kigoma port dwell time is zero but we are facing ships availability challenges…but the government is building two ships and repairing the three old ones— including MV Liemba,” Mr Gassaya said.

Kigoma port is also undergoing a major expansion in the next two years to 2024 and will have a handling capacity of 2.0million tonnes of general cargoes and 112,700 twenty foot equivalent units (TEU) a year. The project also touches Kibirizi Port, which is sometime regarded as part of Kigoma Port, because it is just 1.5 kilometre away and handles fuel with its two jetties, which can accommodate two ships at ago and three sets of pipelines.

However at the expansion project, coming this November the Kibirizi will handle also bagged cargoes and leave Kigoma to handle containerised ones. The project will also see the construction of 260 metres quay at Kibirizi to enable it handles lose cargoes.

“Thus Kibirizi port will handle lose cargoes designated to small ports around Lake Tanganyika while at the same time remain a main gate to enter DR-Congo and Burundi through the central corridor,” Mr Gassaya said Equally, the government is working on fixing lack of train wagons availability from Tanzania Railway Corporation (TRC), even before the completion of Standard Railway Gauge (SGR).

The Minister of State in the President’s Office (Regional Administration and Local Government – PORALG), Mr Innocent Bashungwa, who was the summit chief guest at the closing ceremony said they will also invite the private sector to own railway wagons especially on central corridor under a special agreement in a bid to end wagon shortages.

Shedding light on how Tanzania Railway Corporation (TRC) is contributing on improving services at the ports, its Director of Planning and Investment, Nzeyimana Dyegula said: “Kigoma has weekly service comprises of three freight trains which delivers around 2,400 tonnes of various commodities including cement, building materials, grains, petroleum products.” Despite all challenges, the Kigoma port up to the end of last month managed to handle some 277,000 tonnes of cargo for year 2021/22 and target to handle 308,000 tonnes in 2022/23.

Kigoma’s Tanzania Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (TCCIA), Chairman Abdul Mwilima said efforts should be increased to open up Kigoma since the region sits at strategic position for Lake Tanganyika businesses.

“I believe the trading data between Kigoma and Burundi and DRC have doubled today since the data are two years ago,” Mr Mwilima told the Daily News at the side-lines of the summit. The country’s trade volume through Lake Tanganyika corridor, via ports in Kigoma region was 740bn/- in 2019 compared to 600bn/- ranked in through four borders in four regions in the same year.

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Author: ABDUEL ELINAZA

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