The EPZA's Research and Planning Manager, Mr James Maziku, said development of the area awaits gazetting of the declaration that is expected in a week. "Out of the alloted area, ten hectares at the existing Mtwara port are scheduled for immediate development to serve service providers to oil and gas companies," Mr Maziku told the RCC, chaired by Mtwara Regional Commissioner, Mr Joseph Simbakalia.
He said various studies have so far proved immense benefits of the Freeport Zone, describing the move as inevitable for the country's future progress of the multibillion US dollar petroleum industry. The influx of petroleum companies in the country, demand from suppliers and service providers of the investors and cost savings are some of the arguments that favour the Freeport Zone, he said.
Mr Maziku added: "The government will also raise its domestic revenue collections through corporate taxes as well as tap the benefits of Mtwara Port's strategic location as the hub for East, Central and Southern Africa." Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) will develop and operate the Mtwara Freeport Zone through building onsite infrastructure - roads, water supply systems, sewage systems, fence and administrative blocks as well as creating plots within the zone as per the master plan.
However, Mr Maziku decried inadequate existing port facilities to match the upcoming demand, citing the only two berths, with one reserved exclusively for the drilling operations, as a serious challenge to the envisaged Freeport Zone. According to Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation's (TPDC) Oil Engineer Raphael Antelimi, there are eight companies with contracts to explore oil and gas in deep sea. All the firms rely on Mtwara Port.
Mr Antelimi said there have been impressive discoveries by some of companies, with high prospects of the country joining the world's oil and gas producers and suppliers.