Investment at Mtwara Port pays off

What you need to know:

  • Apart from building a complete new berth, the government has also procured a ship-to-shore gantry crane (SSG), a modern scanner and a flowmeter for the port

Mtwara. The government’s investments at Mtwara Port are yielding lucrative returns, raising the handling capacity of one of Tanzania’s main sea gateways.

Apart from building a complete new berth, the government has also procured a ship-to-shore gantry crane (SSG), a modern scanner and a flowmeter, among others.

The investments, the Mtwara Port Manager, Mr Ferdinand Nyathi, told editors at the weekend, were a deliberate effort by the government to turn Mtwara Port into an active player in the scramble for a piece of the regional maritime trade.

This is in line with the Mtwara Corridor Development Project, which involves linking the sea gateway to the whole of southern Tanzania and northern Mozambique, as well as the eastern sides of Malawi and Zambia.

At least Sh157.8 billion has been invested in the construction of a 300-metre-long new berth that can effectively accommodate a ship as long as 230 metres, the Mtwara Port Manager, Mr Nyathi, told the editors who visited the port at the weekend.

With a water depth of 13 metres, the new berth can handle bulk carriers of up to 650,000 deadweight tonnes (DWT).

The new berth also comes complete with a 75,807-square-metre yard that has the capacity of storing up to 8,600 twenty-foot containers per year.

With the ongoing modernization initiatives, the Mtwara Port handled 1.629 million metric tonnes of cargo during the 2022/23 fiscal year.

This was almost 15 times more than the 106,170 metric tonnes handled during 2018/19 fiscal year, Mr Nyathi said.

Besides, the prospects for the fiscal year 2023/24 look promising, with data showing that some 1.016 million metric tonnes had been handled during the first seven months of the current fiscal year (between July 2023 and January 2024), mostly cement, cashew nuts and coal shipments.

According to Mr Nyathi, apart from the southern part of the Tanzanian mainland, the Mtwara Port is now handling goods destined for Zanzibar, Mozambique, Comoro, India and Vietnam, among others.

The number of countries served by the port would soon rise when the construction of the Sh80.85 billion port at Mbamba Bay on Lake Nyasa is complete.

Last month, the Tanzania Port Authority (TPA) handed over the construction site for the new Mbamba Bay Port to Anova Consulting Company Ltd.

Linked to Mtwara with a road and rail network, the Mbamba Bay Port will play a crucial role in connecting Tanzania with Malawi and Zambia.

In his remarks, the director of marketing and public relations at the TPA, Dr George Fasha, said the Mtwara Port remains a strategic gateway for Tanzania.

“Our target is to raise the number of berths from the current two to six in the near future,” he said, noting that the future of Mtwara Port lies in the handling of graphite to be mined at Ruangwa in Lindi and thriving markets in neighbouring countries.