27 October 2012

Tanzania: Container Trucks Congestion 'Chokes' Dar Port

TRUCKS heading to Dar es Salaam port's container terminal are stuck between Malawi Cargo Centre Limited premises and Gate 8, blocking part of Kurasini's Nelson Mandela Expressway.

Frustrated truck drivers, owners and inland container depot managers blamed Port Improvement Committee (PIC) for doing nothing to address the problem.

"The situation is very bad, there is no single traffic police to lead us through," said Ali Amri, a transit truck driver with Tanzania Road Haulage (TRH).

He had spent over ten hours in the jam, trying to enter the port's container terminal through Gate 8. "As for me, it's no use. I will have to come back next Saturday to try and get through. We need urgent action, this is high season," said Kimbamba Mbwege from AMI container depot.

A 'Daily News on Saturday' spot check last Thursday evening observed winding queues of trucks stretching over 1,000 metres from MCCL to Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) headquarters main gate.

Truck owners and ICD managers demanded an urgent meeting of the PIC, chaired by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Infrastructure, Mr Omari Chambo. TRH ICD Operations Manager, Mr Ali Hussain said there was need for an urgent solution to the crisis, otherwise this would take Dar es Salaam port back to the bad days of congestion.

"I think we need traffic police to help direct the trucks to facilitate entrance to the container terminal," said Mr Hussain who advised Chairman PIC sub-committee, Ashraf Khan to intervene and seek support from the traffic police department.

An official from AMI ICD who preferred anonymity, said his company had 25 trucks waiting to collect containers but none had managed to get through. The situation has been deteriorating for the past two weeks, but was very bad last Thursday when trucks spent more than 10 hours in the queue," said the official.

However, the 'Daily News on Saturday' observed a relatively orderly situation yesterday, probably because of the Eid holidays, but sources complained that Tanzania International Container Terminal Services (TICTS) had failed to handle cargo after a slow down at TPA terminal, which handles over 30 per cent of containerized cargo.

Transit drivers also said Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA)'s electronic seal device installation exercise on transit trucks, is also to blame as it is slowing down the process of trucks entrance and departure from the container terminal.

In an electronic message to port stakeholders, TICTS Control Manager, Geoffrey Mwavalla said congestion was building up due to trouble at TRA's Gate 5. "Kindly take note that we are facing a build-up jamming in our terminal due to slow movement of trucks at TRA (GATE 5).

As per TRA, most of the trucks do not have electronic seal and this is what is done right now for some of transit trucks," Mr Mwavalla wrote.

Container Depot Association of Tanzania (CDAT) Chairman, Mr Khan said an urgent meeting of the PIC is being planned for next week to address the situation, which is threatening performance of the port. "We need to address this situation urgently and find solutions other than wait for three months as some people are proposing," he pointed out.

Khan said he has already raised the matter with TPA Acting Director General who is PIC Vice-Chairman to address the crisis. Dar es Salaam port which caters for six landlocked countries in addition to the host country has successfully managed to reduce cargo clearing time from more than 21 days in 2008/9 season to 6 days last month, but is slowly drifting back to old bad days as the time has now reached between 9-10 days.

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