Dar, Mombasa ports step up competition

A section part of Dar es Salaam. PHOTO | FILE

What you need to know:

  • Dar es Salaam and Mombasa, East Africa’s largest and busiest ports, are in a renewed race to attract more business, with an eye on cargo going to and coming from the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is the East African Community’s newest member state

Arusha. Dar es Salaam and Mombasa, the largest ports in East Africa, are in a race to attract more sea bound cargo and imports into the region.

While Dar projects to handle 30 million tonnes come 2030, its competitor, Mombasa, is undergoing expansion to increase its capacity to 47 million tonnes.

These emerged during a visit by the board members of the East African Business Council (EABC) to Tanzania’s largest port which last year handled 17.03 million tonnes.

“We envision to boost capacity to 30 million tonnes by 2030,” said the director general of Tanzania Port Authority (TPA) Plasduce Mbossa during the Friday visit.

The authority which operates within the port premises has initiated various measures to ensure increased capacity to handle more cargo through the facility.

These, according to Mr Mbossa, include setting up of One Stop Centre at the country’s largest port housing import and export agencies.

The logistics centre will improve the Dar es Salaam port performance, he said during a briefing to board members led by their chairperson Ms Angela Ngalula.

The board members visited the port for updates on trade facilitation activities at the port (Dar es Salaam) which has undergone various improvements recently.

The Dar port is also serving the land-locked countries besides handling over 80 percent of cargo destined within Tanzania’ territorial boundaries.

The land-locked states using the facility in various degrees are Malawi, Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda.

Its main competitor in the East African Community (EAC) bloc is Mombasa port in Kenya which also serves some hinterland states of Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda and others.

According to information contained in its website, the Mombasa port is currently undergoing expansion to raise its capacity to 47 million tonnes by 2030.

Reports have it that the Kenyan port has provided a number of incentives in an effort to attract DR Congo.

The incentives include, but not limited to, removal of NTBs, cut of cargo storage costs and the issuance of an area for the construction of dry port.

However, Mr Mbossa said TPA was doing a lot to attract DR Congo, which accounts for the largest share of the transit cargo through Tanzania.

TPA, he told The Citizen, cut down Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) on the road from the past nine to the current three.

He said, they were providing a grace period before starting charging demurrage charges.

“In a bid to improve our services even further, we have opened our office in DR Congo,” said Mr Mbossa.

The discussions between the two parties; TPA and EABC, centered on how to boost the port performance so as to improve its competitiveness in the regional market.

Mr Mbossa said facilities were also being upgraded at Tanga and Mtwara ports while plans are underway to construct a new port in Bagamoyo.

The Mtwara port, the terminal of the southern transport corridor extending to Malawi and Zambia, has a new berth while the Tanga port depth has been increased.

Increased number of births, equipment and technologies has enabled mega vessels of 6,000 to 8,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) to call at the port of Dar es Salaam.

In her remarks, Ms Ngalula called for streamlined coordination among the trade facilitation agencies in the transport and logistics value chain from the port to the destinations “in order to ease the movement of cargo in the region.”

She elaborated that the port of Dar es Salaam facilities are central to boost regional trade within the EAC and exports for land-linked countries in the region.

EABC executive director. John Bosco Kalisa applauded the improvement of the performance of the Dar es Salaam port, terming it “tremendous,” stating that 80 percent of Rwanda cargo passes through the port.

However, he urged TPA to benchmark performance with Durban port of South Africa so as to enhance export competitiveness of the EAC bloc in light of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA).

Mr Antoine Muzaneza, EABC Vice Chairperson urged the Tanzania Railway Cooperation to increase the number of wagons to Kigoma route to facilitate trade destined to Burundi and waive storage charges due to unforeseeable circumstances.

EABC board member Mr Rwabwogo Businge, urged for finalization of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) to Mwanza and improvement of the metered railway.

This, he explained, will ease transportation of bulk cargo and improve inter connectivity between the Dar es Salaam port and Uganda. He stated that Ugandan traders are eager to use the port of Dar es Salaam and increase its port throughput.