Experts caution Dar es Salaam over Lamu port plan

Tanzania ports may soon become idle if plans to build new and competitive facilities are not implemented now.

This comes in the wake of plans by Kenya to construct a 23 billion US dollar transshipment port at Lamu.

Experts say that in today's business every port in the world keeps pace with fewer but much larger shipping lines and concentration of cargo into bigger vessels able to utilise just a few key hub ports.

The Tanzania Shipping Agents Association (TASAA) Chairman, Mr Emmanuel Mallya, said the construction of Mwambani Port in Tanga should be done now otherwise the country's ports many soon become feeder ports to Lamu.

Dar Port, may soon become an idle port in EAC
"Mwambani is the best choice for such a port due to its proximity and connectivity to the hinterland. Between Lamu and Mwambani, whichever comes up first, will be the best one for the foreseeable future," Mr Mallya said in an interview on Tuesday.

The TASAA Chairman said the crucial point is that the market size in East, Central and Southern Africa (with exceptional of South Africa) could only accommodate one such transshipment port. Tanzania is bordered by 10 landlocked countries which is an advantage against Kenya.

He added: "Such a port will then automatically become the major port of East African freights, leaving all others to fulfil a feeder port role. This port will be the hub.

Mr Mfutakamba
"Feeding these big ships, Mr Mallya said, needs a supportive port to include land side infrastructure --depots, warehousing, rail sidings and road connection to hinterlands plus housing Export Processing Zones (EPZ) and Special Economic Zones (SEZ).

The Deputy Minister for Transport, Mr Athuman Mfutakamba, said talks were going on with a potential investor or the possibility of public private partnership for Mwambani Port.

"I don't want to reveal much, it is still too early, but rest assured that we will beat them (the construction of Lamu Port) as things on the ground are very positive," Mr Mfutakamba said.

Dar es Salaam University Lecturer, Dr Haji Semboja, disputed the deputy minister's account saying plans for Mwambani were not advanced."Mwambani is still an idea. There is nothing much," he said, adding that Kenyans are ahead of us."

Dr Semboja
The Tanzania Port Authority (TPA) Corporate Communications Manager, Mr Franklin Mziray, said the appropriate authority to speak on the Mwambani Port development is the Ministry of transport since the matter is 'a policy issue'.

So far, Tanzania and Uganda are planning a 2.7 billion US dollar joint venture to develop a new railway line and ports on Lake Victoria to cope with increased trade from the East African hinterland.

Out of the planned investment, 1.9 billion US dollar is for the railway, 695.5 million US dollar for the Mwambani port and 72.6 million US dollar for the development of the Musoma dock. 

The Dar es Salaam Port, experts say, has neither a room for required expansion that will house the Export Processing Zones (EPZs) nor enable the docking of a ship carrying 10,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs).

Dar Port, which is the biggest in the country, has maximum capacity to receive a ship with capacity of 2,500TEUs only. Djibouti is an example of such ports which is now competing with Middle East Ports, like Salalah and Jeddah, for African consignments.
Source: The Daily News,, reported by Abduel Elinaza

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