The port handled 475,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) last year, up from 415,000TEUs in the previous year. The Dar Port Manager, Mr Cassian Ng’amilo told the Daily News in Dar es Salaam yesterday that the increase is attributable to increasing container berths at the port, with five ships handled at a go.
“The port can now handle up to six container ships at a go...this has reduced congestions,” Mr Ng’amilo said, adding: “The road infrastructure to Burundi and Rwanda is excellently speeding up transportation.” He said the port fails to function well if supporting infrastructures are in bad shape, saying it now takes between three and four days against the previous seven days to reach Burundi and Rwanda by road.
The port has registered good performance notwithstanding the poor condition of the railway infrastructure. The recent reforms at the Dar Port have attracted a number of importers in the region to turn up to Dar es Salaam, substantially decreasing the Mombasa Port’s business share.
According to Kenya Port Authority’s (KPA) recent data, the Mombasa port handled 18.9 per cent less or 552,449 tonnes of cargo from Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and the DRC in the nine months to September last year. As a result, the Mombasa Port relied on Uganda and South Sudan—that have little choice on their logistic corridor—to grow its export cargo volumes to 3.9 million tonnes in the nine months compared to 3.8 million tonnes in the same period last year.
The Dar port Manager said east African ports experienced congestion due to limited capacity but Dar es Salaam has geographical advantages for Zambia and DRC consignments while Mombasa suits South Sudan and Uganda. “Though is only 500 kilometres from Mombasa to Kampala, Dar es Salaam will stand a better chance for Ugandan cargo once Mwanza and Bukoba are connected by road,” Mr Ng’amilo said.
Kenyan analysts are worried that once the Dar Port reforms are completed some project by the first half of this year, the Kenyan port is going to lose even more business. Tanzania Port Authority’s Master Plan is estimated to cost between 400- 650 million US dollars (approx. 600bn/- and 925bn/-) and implementation will first start bearing fruits in 2013/14 financial year.
The Port Master Plan seeks among other things to expand Dar es Salaam port further, develop two new container handling berths, dredging of the entrance channel and development of a large cargo freight station at Kisarawe. The Ports Master Plan also includes development of new modern ports at Mwambani in Tanga, targeting Uganda bound consignments.