Stakeholders demand fair deal at Dar port

Plans to enable Dar es Salaam port operate 24 hours a day and seven days a week should be aligned to Big Results Now (BRN) initiative which targets to increase cargo handled by the port from the current 12 million metric tons to 18 million by 2015.

Container Depots Association of Tanzania (CDAT) Chairman Ashraf Khan and Tanzania Shipping Agents Association (TASAA) Executive Director, Elitunu Malamia said several issues as per BRN initiative need to be addressed before the new working arrangement is effected.

"In fact some of us are already working 24 hours a day and seven days a week, but the only problem I see is that we are lagging far much behind in meeting BRN key performance indicators (KPIs)," said Mr Khan who is also Chairman of Dar es Salaam's port BRN laboratory subcommittee.

Khan who like other stakeholders objected to signing the 24/7 implementation contract last week because public institutions including Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA), Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (SUMATRA) and Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) need a lot of improvement to meet BRN benchmarks.

He noted that simple issues which needed implementation by TPA or Sumatra are yet to be effected almost one year after BRN commencement at the country's main port.

Among other things, TPA was supposed to review existing Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) by incorporating new operational framework, KPIs and tariffs within four weeks between April 15 and May 14, 2013.

TPA and Sumatra were also required to draft a memorandum of understanding on the proposed SOPs for the port stakeholders to agree on implementing the recommended changes.

Further TPA was also supposed to identify task force members and invite them for formal meetings. "All these tasks were not done as per schedule hence jumping to have 24/7 operations is not practical until such time that we implement these things and measure progress made as per KPIs," Khan noted.

In a paper circulated to TASAA members before last week's TPA summoned meeting to sign the 24/7 contract, Mr Malamia said the plan was one of the BRN activities which comes after several other things have been addressed.

"The initiative involved KPIs for loading, discharge, clearance and delivery of cargo as well as turnaround, among others. The KPIs are already available in the BRN documents.

We at TASAA were hoping to see them in these documents but we do not," Malamia wrote. He argued that the TPA 24/7 contract is lopsided and may not achieve the envisaged productivity because only the private sector has their responsibilities time-bound and not the government agencies such as TRA and TPA, among others.

"For instance, the SOPs say that shipping agents should submit the manifest within 48hrs (failure attracts penalty), but it remains silent on when TRA would have the manifest approved for us to issue delivery orders and also remains silent on how long the vessels will stay alongside," Malamia argued.

Describing government agencies performance as wanting in efficiency to meet BRN benchmarks, the TASAA Executive Secretary noted that it's necessary to make sure that any party that fails to deliver as per BRN benchmarks should be penalised.

"You will note that most of the MOU/SOP is about the same activities done 24/7 around the clock and already subject to complaints on inefficiency.

In that regard, it is all stakeholders especially the government agencies that really need to work 24/7 with performance indicators," he argued.

On January 29, TPA's Senior Legal Officer Mutabazi Lugazia summoned a stakeholders meeting to discuss the signing of the MoU for 24/7 operations at the country's prime port.

In his invitation message to stakeholders, Mr Lugazia said, "It is further my directives to require you to attend in big numbers and promptly. The matter is urgent as you are aware that this is part of the presidential directive as part of implementing BRN. Implementation is behind schedule," he wrote.

The meeting agreed that the 24/7 draft contract be fine tuned by stakeholders before its signing to address issues raised and align it with BRN.
Source: Daily News, reported by Finningan wa Simbeye from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
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