Why government should lift suspension on ICDs

Friday May 27 2022
Port PIC

Copper from the Democratic Republic of Congo stacked at the Dar es Salaam Port waiting to be shipped to China and the Middle East. This is part of the 5,100 tonnes to be consigned this weekend. Story on Page 3. PHOTO | THE CITIZEN CORRESPONDENT

By George Helahela

Dar es Salaam. The volume of cargo passing through Dar es Salaam Port has risen sharply in recent months, with the business community saying it is both a challenge and an opportunity.

As a result the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) has asked the government to resume the issuance of licences for inland container depots (ICDs) within Tanzania’s commercial capital.

TPSF chairperson Angelina Ngalula said yesterday that the authorities at the port have been doing a commendable job, and cargo is now cleared within two days.

“This is a massive improvement compared to several months ago when it took anywhere between 20 to 30 days for cargo to be cleared. However, since no new ICD licences have been issued for a number of years now, all ICDs in Dar es Salaam are full to the brim, hence the need to resume the issuing of licences,” she said.

The government has prohibited through the Tanzania Shipping Agencies (Dry Port) Regulations, 2018 the issuance of licences for ICDs located within the port’s proximity. Section 9 (2) of the regulations says, “The Corporation shall not issue a license unless the facility for which the license is applied for is allocated 30 kilometres or more from the port terminal which the dry port is intended to serve or unless its operations are confined to stuffing of export containers or is a grain silo serving bulk cargo in accordance with East Africa Community Customs Management Act, 2004.”

This suggests that ICDs should now be located either on the peripheries of Dar es Salaam, or in Coast Region.

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The government has specifically stated that ICDs should be built in Kwala in Kibaha District, Coast Region, which is about 90 kilometres from Dar es Salaam Port

Ms Ngalula said, however, that the recommended site is not attractive enough for potential investors.

“The place lacks the infrastructure needed in the current situation. We appeal to the government to issue licences to existing dry ports in Dar es Salaam, which are currently unable to operate.”

With no licences, investors in cannot acquire bank loans, she added.

“Most of them don’t have licences, and for those who do, the time to their expiry is too short for them to operate profitably, or secure loans from banks.”

The speed at which cargo is cleared at the port means that more ICDs are needed.

“Up to 40,000 tonnes of sulphur can be offloaded from a ship within one day, and this requires up to 1,000 vehicles to carry the consignment,” Ms Ngalula said.

There are a total of 13 ICDs in Dar es Salaam, which can accommodate 27,185 twenty-foot containers.

The city is also home to three ICDs for vehicles, which are, however, not being used because vehicle clearance only takes place within the port premises.

Tanzania National Business Council (TNBC) executive Secretary Godwill Wanga noted that the government was ready for a roundtable discussion with transport stakeholders to see how some challenges in the industry could be resolved.

“The government’s goal is to reach an agreement with transport stakeholders, and it is ready to address those challenges together by looking at the legal process,” he said.