Strategic investment in ports spurs economic growth

WHILE Tanzanians celebrate President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s second anniversary in the highest office, the port sector looks back to her first two years as a period of steady growth in terms of infrastructure development and acquisition of modern equipment and technologies.

It may be only two years since she took the oath of office to become Tanzania’s sixth president, but Dr Samia’s achievements speaks volume and paint a brighter future for the country, particularly in the port sector, which contributes 40 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Production (GDP).

Cognisant of the fact that sound investment in the country’s ports is key in accelerating economic growth and development, President Samia has been hands on in orchestrating the sector’s transformation by supporting strategic projects undertaken by the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA), which are aimed at improving port services in the country.

After stepping into power in March, 2021, President Samia clearly expressed her intention to help improve TPA’s operations and to enable the Authority to take advantage of the huge economic potential of the country’s ports and shipping sector.

For President Samia, it is equally significant that Tanzania’s ports withstand the competition from rival ports in neighbouring nations. And the last two-year has seen the TPA work tirelessly to implement President Samia’s vision and her dream to make Tanzania a hub for water transportation.

The TPA with the government’s helping hand has in the past two years succeeded to transform port operations and enhanced efficiency.

There has been massive improvement in port infrastructure, acquisition and use of modern cargo handling equipment and technologies, safety and security, while considerable measures have been taken to market the country’s ports with the ultimate goal of multiplying volumes of cargo passing through Tanzania’s ports.

President Samia’s first major step aimed to support the port industry was giving the TPA a 500bn/- war chest to procure modern cargo handling equipment and technologies. It was a welcome move by President Samia given that the TPA had long been grappling with insufficient and worn-out cargo handling equipment, which was significantly undermining performance and efficiency, particularly at the principal port of Dar es Salaam, an anchor port supporting not just Tanzania but also several landlocked neighbours.

The sixth phase government has boldly continued to invest in ports and their related transport infrastructure such as roads and railways in an effort to advance trade and promote overall economic development and growth.

And two years on the TPA can stand tall and boast great strides after securing modern equipment which have improved performance and efficiency of the country’s ports, including four tugboats and other cargo handling equipment for Dar es Salaam, Mtwara and Tanga ports as well as other inland ports.

President Samia’s commitment to transform the ports sector is well demonstrated through her government’s support to TPA towards the completion of the major Dar es Salaam Maritime Gateway Project (DMGP), whereas the construction of the new roll-on, roll-off terminal with the capacity to handle 6000 vehicles at par has been completed.

The construction of the new RoRo Berth has significantly boosted Dar es Salaam Port’s capacity to handle much larger vessels with efficiency, and to improve on the turnaround time for ships coming through.

This, motor vehicles are now driven off the ship and straight onto the adjacent spacious berth. The sixth phase government has also enabled the completion of various programmes under the 421 million US dollars-Dar es Salaam Maritime Gateway Project (DMGP), which has been under implementation since 2017 with the objective of improving the effective ness and efficiency of the Port of Dar es Salaam for the benefit of public and private stakeholders through strengthening of the physical infrastructure as well as TPA’s institutional capacity.

Financed by the government of Tanzania jointly with the World Bank and the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the DMGP has supported the reconstruction of and deepening alongside berths 1–7 to 14.5 metres, so the port can now comfortably host large vessels, compared to an average 8-metre draft before the expansion. The project is now at 90 per cent of completion.

Tanga Port regains lost glory

The government’s determination to restore the status of Tanga Port has seen it dish out a total of 429.1bn/- for major improvement of the oldest water gateway in East Africa.

In two years of President Samia’s administration, the government provided 172.3bn/- for implementation of the first phase project, which involved expansion of the entrance channel to 1.7 kilometre length and 73 metres width, increase of the draft at the turning basin and procurement of modern equipment. Through the project, the berth has been increased to a 13 metre depth from three metres.

The cargo handling equipment purchased through the funds include among others two gottwald, an empty handler with two tonnes capacity, one forklift with 50 tonnes capacity, a fork lift with 16 tonnes capacity and two forklifts with five tonnes capacity. Others are Rubber Tyred Gantry (RTG) for container delivering and two terminal tractors.

The implementation of the second phase of the project which has reached 95 per cent involved the construction of new 450-metre-long berths at a cost of 256.8bn/-.

TPA has already received 300 metres out of 450 currently under improvement. The renovation and expansion of Tanga Port has started paying off with a number of larger vessels docking at the terminal for the first time this month.

Mtwara Port fast becomes vibrant southern trade hub Boasting its pride of being a natural harbour, Mtwara Port is the country’s strategic terminal that plays a significant role in facilitating cargo transport for the southern regions of Mtwara, Lindi and Ruvuma.

This port also serves as an ideal gateway to the outside world for commodity exports and imports for some parts of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) member states such as Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia. No wonder, the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) through the support of the government has massively invested in the expansion of the terminal at the cost of 157bn/-.

The expansion project was completed in 2020. The project included construction of a new berth, measuring 300 metres in length and 13.5 metres in depth. The project now enables the port to accommodate mega ships weighing 65000 tonnes. Before it was expanded, the port capacity was to accommodate cargo ships with 40,000 tonnes (Dead Weight-DWT).

The facility was operating with an old 380 metre berth only.

With the new 300 metre berth now fully functional, the port is currently measuring a total length of 680 metres, capable of handling three big ships of 200 metres each at a go.

Acting Mtwara Port Manager James Ng’wandu is grateful to the government for providing the port with a new Ship to Shore Gantry (SSG) Crane, which has the capacity of offloading containers 45 metres away from the ocean.

The crane is among three imported by the government, two for Dar es Salaam Port and another one for Mtwara Port.

“This new equipment arrived in the country from Ireland last and it cost the government about 80 million Euros (about 200bn/-) to procure three cranes. Mr Ng’wandu also said that the SSG crane will have the capacity to load or offload 25 containers per hour.

It is in the final stages of completion and only waiting for official handing over procedure. In terms of other equipment, the port has two standby power generators with an installed capacity of 1,000 KVA, according to Acting Port Engineer, Stephan Kashushura.

The port also boasts having large mobile harbour cranes, five empty handlers, 13 forklifts, 14 terminal tractors and 20 trailers.

The major improvement of the terminal has helped improve the volume of business, earning the port 23bn/- last financial year compared to 11bn/- in 2020/2021.

Major improvement have been made in inland ports, with the completion of Karema Port, a stateof-art general cargo terminal on Lake Tanganyika, demonstrating the government’s determination to make Tanzania shipping hub in the East, Central and Southern Africa regions.

All these measure have significantly enhanced cargo handling efficiency across TPA’s ports which continue to attract a good number of customers who opt to ship their cargo through Tanzanian ports.

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