THE European Union's ambassadors to Tanzania have been pleased by the performance of the port of Dar es Salaam in the last one year, though there is room for further improvement.
The delegation proposed last year six areas of improvement especially on efficiency. Most of their suggestions have been met by Tanzania Port Authority (TPA).
The areas include inefficiency in cargo clearance, stevedoring and shore-handling operations, cargo and passenger safety and security. They also wanted the management to involve the EU's port advisory bodies.
The EU Ambassador to Tanzania, Mr Filiberto Ceriani Sebregondi, said that they were pleased also by the Ministry of Transport readiness to receive their opinions and set good working relations regularly.
"We recommended measures taken to achieve these goals in the last one year since our visit at the port," Mr Sebregondi said after touring the port adding, "especially on maritime security and safety."
The ambassador who was leading 23 delegation of EU country ambassadors and business representatives during the tour, said that they proposed a regular dialogue between TPA, EU and the Ministry to devise means of increasing efficiency at all ports in the country.
Mr Sebregondi said the country needs a low cost means of transport to ease inflationary pressure on goods and services which was a good pre-condition for development. "Despite good efficiency figures given by the port authority, still shipping cost (to Dar) is 25 per cent higher than the rest of Sub-Sahara Africa," the ambassador said, attributing his remark on a recent study by the World Bank which is yet to be made official.
He said that if Dar es Salaam port was compared to others in the rest of the world, shipping cost stand at 150 per cent, a rate he said that needs to be revised since traffic to Dar es Salaam is expected to increase by 240 per cent in the next 15 years.
The Minister for Transport, Dr Harrison Mwakyembe, said that his ministry welcomed all criticisms and challenges because all is aimed at improving the country's ports operations. "But the report Mr (EU) ambassador refers to is based on what happened up to April, (this year). Some of the items have been overtaken by the measures we have implemented," Dr Mwakyembe said.
The minister, however, assured the delegation to work closely as the way of improving the efficiency of all ports in the country. He said: When you visit this port next year I am sure you will be very pleased."
TPA's Acting Deputy Director General, Clemence Kiloyavaha, said that the port had synchronized the working hours for different port stakeholders who are now working 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"Yard density at the main container terminal has improved from an average of 62 per cent in 2011 to 52 per cent by October, this year, reflecting a no terminal congestion situation," Mr Kiloyavaha, who represented the Acting DG, said.
Other improvements in the last one year include overall ships' turnaround time that has been reduced from an average of 7.3 days last year to 6.4 days per ship by October. Land and transit containers dwell time has been cut from 11.5 days to 9.7 days and 17.1 days to 14.4 days respectively.
Stevedoring operations have improved from 415 tonnes per gang shift last year to 446 per gang shift by last month, while cars offloading also improved per shift from 210 units to 497 units during the same period.
Maersk Line Country Sales Manager, Tony Makani, said they were facing a number of challenges including waiting for berthing that runs for 14 days which is enough time to sail from Middle East to East Africa. "It's no longer possible to operate efficiently due to delays.
We would like to know the government stance on the construction of berth 13 and 14 that has been on plans in the last three years," Mr Makani asked the minister. The minister assured them that the government would next month make its stand on a number of challenges facing the port, including tender for extension of the port.