Samia breaks silence on Dar-Dubai port deal

What you need to know:

  • The latest round of views on the contentious port deal between Tanzania and Dubai’s DP World has seen the President weigh in for the first time as the main opposition camp announces a new campaign to boycott the agreement

Dar es Salaam. President Samia Suluhu Hassan yesterday weighed in for the first time on the controversial port deal between the government and the Emirate of Dubai, warning that while we engage in debates and discussions, Tanzania’s neighbours were trying to court the same investors.

Tanzania has entered into an Intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with the Emirate of Dubai over the operation and development of its port.

The IGA, which has elicited a cacophony of debates and discussions, was approved by Parliament on June 10.

Addressing newly-appointed government officials who were sworn in at State House in Dar es Salaam, President Hassan said the Planning Commission had huge responsibilities in suggesting ways to address challenges and grab the opportunities available for the country.

"On that issue of opportunities, let me say something about how people grab them. While we wrangle about who should be given the port, and so forth, and so forth… Our neighbours, after seeing our debates, are trying to seize the opportunity. The same tower (Burj Khalifa) that displayed the Tanzanian flag has recently displayed their flag…"

She added; "The same day that our Parliament approved IGA for the operation of our one port (Dar es Salaam port), the next day our neighbours announced that they were ready to let the private sector take over operations of all ports, and they quickly rushed to Dubai to try to close the deal."

President Hassan was referring to the Kenyan government’s plans to have private operators take over Mombasa and its other ports.

"This just serves to show how opportunities come and go very quickly and how others can grab them quickly. I just wanted to give that example to emphasise the need to address challenges and grab opportunities as quickly as possible," President Hassan said.

In fact, even as President Hassan was speaking about the port deal yesterday, the chairman of the main opposition party, Chadema, Freeman Mbowe, and the minister for Works and transport, Prof Makame Mbarawa, were also separately addressing journalists concerning the same matter.

While Prof Mbarawa and a cohort of government officials and legal experts were speaking with editors from the Editors Forum (EF) organization at a Dar es Salaam hotel, Mr Mbowe was briefing reporters on the resolutions of the Chadema Central Committee (CC) on the IGA.

Mr Mbowe said the CC’s resolutions include the launching of countrywide political rallies that will, among other things, take the issue of the port deal to the people.

He said the operation, which had been dubbed in May as +255 Katiba Mpya, will now be renamed as +255 Katiba Mpya, Okoa Bandari Zetu, literally meaning that +255 New Constitution, Rescue our ports.

"We will be launching the rallies on July 28 in the Kagera Region. And from there we will then continue to Geita, Mwanza, Shinyanga, Simiyu, and Mara regions," he said, adding that the +255 operation rallies will then be held all over the country.

He said the intention was to sensitise the people about how CCM and its government are belittling the people through inefficient contracts for the present and future generations.

Furthermore, he said the CC, in its meeting, has resolved to pressurize both the Parliament and the government to annul the endorsed parliamentary resolution on the port deal, emphasising that the party would apply all pressure at its disposal for the broad interests of the nation.

According to him, everybody behind the agreement should be held accountable, noting that Chadema fully supports all those who have filed a court case against the IGA.

The former Hai Constituency Member of Parliament (MP) said the party would work together with Tanzanians who oppose the port deal, regardless of their political affiliations, to ensure that Tanzanians got a fair deal.

"The CC is satisfied that the contract contravenes the Constitution and international laws. Also, there is no scientific research carried out to prove the inefficiency of the Dar es Salaam port and the operational capabilities of DP World," he said, saying things were kept secret.

Speaking at the Editors Forum meeting, the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) director general, Mr Hamza Johari, said DP World would only take over a portion of operations at the Dar es Salaam port, with the rest remaining in the hands of the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA).

He said there was little investment opportunity at the other ports in the country, including the Zanzibar and Mtwara ports.

Mr Johari said DP World would not own any land in the country, noting that instead, they would lease the land after being registered locally and recruiting 35 percent of Tanzanians as its workers.

"That is also how the Tanzania International Container Terminal Services (TICTS) operated. DP World will not operate all over the country," he said.

"There is no problem with the IGA, I’m getting disappointed when I hear remarks from some Tanzanians about the deal," he added.