Do More To Take The Pressure Off Dar Port
Friday, 17 February 2012 | 00:00
As the main gate to the country’s international trade routes, Dar es Salaam is of utmost importance. Not only does it handle 95 per cent of the country’s international trade and that of six other landlocked countries, but it also accounts for about 40 per cent of our tax revenue.
If it is well managed, according to experts, the port could generate more than 80 per cent of Tanzania’s total tax revenue.
But the port faces a big problem with congestion. The time it takes for vessels to offload cargo, clear it and transport it outside the port premises has been unreasonably long.
We are aware that the situation has improved since the crisis of 2006, when ships waited for more than 15 days to offload cargo. Last year, ships waited for some 3.8 days at anchorage compared to an average of 12.3 days the previous year.
But keeping ships on hold for four days is still too long. We are living in a highly competitive world. Mombasa and Durban ports are on the standby, just waiting to snare the same cargo that Dar handles.
These ports happen to be more efficient and sophisticated.
Moreover, Namibia is constructing a new port in Walvis Bay with the aim of handling goods to and from Zambia. Dar es Salaam has been handling Zambia’s imports and exports for more than 30 years. The Tanzania-Zambia Railways was constructed expressly for that purpose.
We are aware that the relevant authorities have taken some steps to improve the efficiency of the port. These include construction of a new control tower (signal station) that has enabled vessels to navigate the port round the clock. Inland container depots are in the pipeline, along with a container terminal managed by a private operator.
We are also told that there are plans to construct a new port in Bagamoyo to handle additional traffic. This is a good plan, but only if it is translated into action. The port handles bulky cargo that is best transported by rail. We urge the authorities to make sure the inland infrastructure, especially the railway, is also improved to handle more traffic.
Source: The Citizen
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