Dar port to ‘unlock’ neighbours

Efficiency and safety of the Dar es Salaam Port has of late greatly improved resulting into increased flow of customers, especially those from neighbouring landlocked countries.

Tanzania Port Authority (TPA) officials say the time cargo remains in a terminal’s intransit storage area while awaiting shipment or clearance has shrunk to around eight days at the end of 2014 from a double-digit figures.

This, according to TPA officials, has substantially reduced congestion at the port. But, this is still far above the world standard of only two days.

To reduce congestion at the port, a number of inland ports - Inland Container Depots (ICDs) and Car Freight Stations (CFS) have been introduced. As a result the cargo handling capacity increased to 15.4 million tonnes in 2013/14 from 13.5 million tonnes in 2012/13.

The target of 18 million tonnes by 2015/16 seems possible now than ever before. Revenue has also gone up by over 20 per cent to 529.3bn/- in 2013/14.

Business from once insignificant clients like the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC ) has increased by 30 per cent to make them almost at par with Zambia, one of the biggest users of the Dar es Salaam Port.

Nevertheless, apart from last year’s success, the port also sailed on the rough seas. Among the big waves the port has to manoeuvre through is the loss or damage of consignments.

According to the port statistics, since 2012 only two cases were reported of lost containers and two lost cars. Despite the number of incidents being low, the authority is still concerned because the events tarnish TPA’s corporate image.

In that vein the Ministry of Transport directed all the port’s stakeholders to take full responsibility for loss or damage of any consignment including fully compensating clients.

The modus operandi, according to Minister Harrison Mwakyembe, should pay first and investigate later in a bid to build reputable ports that are second to none in sub-Saharan Africa. And if that is not enough, the amount of the loss would be deducted from salaries of TPA workers.

“The (Dar) port’s reputation has improved. We cannot let that go at the expense of a few greedy individuals,” Dr Mwakyembe said.

The stakeholders responsible are ICDs, CFSs, Tanzania International Container Terminal Services (TICTS), TPA-Dar Port, as well as clearing and forwarding agents. Another thing is that the ministry is concerned about the Dar es Salaam port operations.

Since it operates with various stakeholders, the ministry calls upon stakeholders meetings to iron out issues that back-pedal the success of the facility.

The last week meeting was a solutionbased gathering, a number of issues were heard and solutions struck out in a few minutes of discussion, as all stakeholders were present at the discussing table.

Business Congolese International (BCI), Vice- President John Kapeta raises an issue of being charged for damaged containers which are realistic and increased costs of doing business.

But Tanzania Road Haulage, Director of Operations, Mr Ali Hussein Lilani, told him all charges are based on the damage analysis report after going through the container.

He went even further to offer to give BCI representative an office at TRH offices to observe the damage analysis procedures hence creating a win-win condition.

TRH is an agent for shipping lines to receive empties containers. The Congolese business association raised a number of issues including car and container theft and containers inland dwelling time, were 30 days for delivering consignment to returning of empty container.

Tanzania Shipping Agents Association Chairman, Mr Peter Kirigini, said according to the new house-to-house container dwelling time guideline, a client is given 45 days - as per SUMATRA directive. “The new guideline took effect on January 1,” Mr Kirigini said.

The move pleased the Congolese customers. The meeting later agreed to form a committee that would meet in next five or so days to deliberate on the ICDs, freight forwarders and Congolese association’s concern that containers check-in at ICDs should reflect the day of delivery not ship anchoring day.

According to World Bank’s Tanzania Economic Update (TEU) of 2013, a container vessel’s on average queues for 10 days to be able to berth at the Dar es Salaam Port.

It could also take up to an additional 10 days to off-load the merchandise, clear it and transport it. By comparison, container vessels at the Port of Mombasa, the largest in East Africa, took less than a day to berth in 2012 and three-to-four days to off-load, clear and transport merchandise.

According to the report, the cost of these inefficiencies translates into a tariff of 22 per cent on container imports and about five per cent on bulk imports and financial losses for shippers and shipping companies.

“These costs are in general passed on to consumers,” said Jacques Morisset, lead economist for Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi and author of the report.

According to the report, an average household would save 147 USD a year or 8.5 per cent of total expenditures if the Dar Port was efficient as the Port of Mombasa.
Source: Daily News, reported by Abduel Elinaza from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
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