A MARITIME expert has advised the Minister for Transport, Dr Harrison Mwakyembe, to be cautious in addressing problems of theft, corruption and inefficiency at the Dar es Salaam Port.
The expert, who did not want to be named, appealed to Dr Mwakyembe to consult other stakeholders in the industry before making his decisions to avoid adverse effects on the country's largest port. "I heard the minister saying that it is now taking 25 days to clear goods at the port. This is no longer the case now, because the situation was like that in 2008/9 when congestion reached critical levels," the expert said.
He added that since the exclusivity clause was deleted from the Tanzania International Container Terminal Services (TICTS) contract, the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) has done a commendable job.
"Cargo clearance time had gone down from 25 days in 2008/2009 to six days, when the minister suspended the top TPA management. It is now standing at around nine to ten days," he noted. Since the 2008/9 crisis which led to the formation of Port Improvement Committee (PIC) which is chaired by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport, TPA has been handling almost 40 per cent of all containerised cargo.
The PIC is comprised of members from Ministry of Transport, TPA, Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA), Tanzania Freight Forwarders Association (TAFFA), Container Depot.Association of Tanzania (CDAT), Tanzania Railways Limited (TRL), Tanzania Zambia Railways Authority (TAZARA), TICTS the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS).
"The task of the PIC is to ensure that efficiency returned to the port, theft is contained and corruption curbed which we have to a bigger extent been successful. It is therefore unrealistic to place the whole blame on TPA's shoulders because there are different stakeholders at the port," he argued.
At the time when investigations were still going on, TPA's performance was drastically affected with revenue going down as more importers shifted from TPA to TICTS terminal because several executives who were acting fail to take major decisions.
"In order to increase space for containers, we advised TPA to construct berth 13 and 14 which was also meant to increase traffic passing through the port but also improve security," the expert noted."But efficiency at the port alone does not make the port attractive and that's why we lobbied the government to ensure that infrastructure such as roads and railways are improved as well as removal of road blocks," he noted.
Giving an example, he said, from Dar es Salaam to Tunduma there were 45 road blocks. Receiving a probe team report that investigated malpractices at Dar port last Sunday, Dr Mwakyembe promised to deal with bad elements at the port.