AS competition among ports in Eastern and Southern Africa stiffens, the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) has decided to come up with a Master Plan for establishment of dry ports in strategic regions, to ease clearance and shipment of transit cargo to neighbouring countries.
This was revealed by TPA Director General, Engineer Deusdedit Kakoko at Ruvu-Vigwaza area in the Coast Region over the weekend, where he accompanied Minister for Works, Transport and Communications, Prof Makame Mbarawa to Kwala area to inspect an ongoing construction of a dry port.
In his details, Engineer Kakoko said for years now TPA has been operating its dry ports, including constructing new ones but without a Master Plan – a dynamic, short and long-term planning document that provides a conceptual layout to guide future growth and development.
According to the director general, the document has been submitted to the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communications for further processes before putting it into use.
He said in the Master Plan, the authority is scheduling to construct an Inland Container Deport (ICfD) in Arusha Region to facilitate clearance and shipment of cargo entering the country through Tanga Port.
Engineer Kakoko said Arusha dry port would significantly attract customers from the neighbouring countries of Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda, including the northern regions of Kilimanjaro, Arusha and Manyara to use Tanga Port and Dar es Salaam harbour.
“Our competitors have built a dry port at Taveta area in Kenya. This means that containerised cargo that enters through Mombasa Port with destinations in Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi is now transported up to Taveta as a strategy to attract customers from those countries,” he said.
The head of TPA said talks have been initiated with Tanzania Railway Limited (TRL) management to work out the possibility of reviving Tanga-Arusha railway stretch to facilitate shipment of containerised cargo from Tanga Port to Arusha dry port.
According to the Director General, the construction of Ruvu-Vigwaza dry port in the Coast Region was also part of an implementation of the Master Plan.
In Phase I and II of the construction of Ruvu-Vigwaza dry port, the government has injected over 9bn/. The ICD is scheduled to start operation early next January and it will be able to hold 1million containers at once. Ruvu-Vigwaza dry port would also help to decongest Dar es Salaam City since the shipment of containerised cargo by customers will start in the Coast Region.
Currently, long vehicles swam Dar es Salaam every day to load containers before shipping them to the neighbouring countries, jamming city roads. Mwanza North Port in Mwanza Region is a strategic place where TPA would also throw its weight to ensure it accommodates large amount of cargo.
The plan is to see such cargo later being transported to Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and other neighbouring areas by sea (Lake Victoria). Strategically, the expansion of Mwanza North Port in Uganda will necessitate the expansion of Port Bell in Uganda for receiving cargo.
Port Bell has a rail link and a railroad ferry wharf used for international traffic across Lake Victoria to Tanzania and Kenya. Other ICDs that, according to Engineer Kakoko, would either need upgrading or establishment include Ihumwa in Dodoma Region, Isaka in Shinyanga Region and Inyala in Mbeya Region.
But, he said, the establishment of new ICDs and upgrading of the existing ones must go hand in hand with improvement of the Dar es Salaam Tanga and Mtwara ports, processes that are already underway.
About three months ago, TPA signed a 36-month contract with China Harbour Engineering Company Limited for upgrading seven berths at Dar es Salaam Port to enable it receive larger cargo ships, thereby enabling it to compete better with other ports along the Indian Ocean coast.
The project would enable the port to receive large and modern vessels capable of carrying up to 19,000 containers, which would lead to more efficiency and economic growth.
The government would also be implementing other projects such as railways and roads to speed up the clearing and transportation of cargo to and from the port.
Dar es Salaam Port handles cargo to and from Rwanda, Burundi, DR Congo, Zambia, Malawi, Uganda and Zimbabwe. It is currently competing with Mombasa in the East Africa region, Beira in Mozambique and Durban in South Africa.