17 December 2012

Tanzania: Cargo Thefts Worry Transporters

TRUCK owners have complained over rampant theft of copper on transit which they say has led to loss of revenue by between 30 and 40 per cent, warning that if deliberate actions are not taken the situation may go out of hand.

At a gathering to celebrate 51 years of independence, the owners sought an audience with the Ministry of Home Affairs, and particularly the police force to chart a way forward on solving the problem.

One of the truck owners, Ms Angelina Ngalula, said theft of copper transported from Zambia trough Tanzania to the port of Dar es Salaam, has forced some exporters redirect their cargo through the ports of Walvis Bay and Beira in Namibia and Mozambique, respectively.

"The situation is not good at all and it affects us a lot, the theft has also led to increased operation costs as we are forced to hire escorts from copper mines in Zambia, parting with additional cost of US 600 dollars per truck. "The theft is an embarrassment to Tanzania since the mineral is mostly stolen at the port of Dar es Salaam.

In most cases, the copper is transported safely from the mines in Zambia through the Tunduma border but gets stolen at the port," Ms Ngalula, Director of Bravo Logistics said. Ms Ngalula said the people behind the theft are known but fell short to mention them, pledging on the other hand to cooperate with the police to pin them down.

"A copper consignment was one time stolen from storage area and I fought hard until I recovered it, I am ready to cooperate with the police to arrest the suspect," she said. She said the consignment in question was worth about US 100,000 dollars (approximately 150m/-), warning that the failure to curb the theft was costing the country dearly in terms of revenue as exporters shun the port of Dar es Salaam for Beira and Walvis Bay.

The port of Dar es Salaam, according to her, was the dominant route of export for Zambia's copper, but now faced competition from Beira and Walvis due to theft. She also complained over delays by custom authorities at border points where truck owners are made to pay between 30 and 60 US dollars per day.

Three Dar es Salaam traders and other people are currently facing charges at the Kisutu Resident Magistrate's Court in the city following theft of copper at the port of Dar es Salaam in the recent months. On his part, the Chairperson of an Interim Committee of Truck Owners who is also among directors of Usangu Logistics Limited, Mr Ibrahim Ismail, said the transportation sector has faced a number of challenges this year.

He mentioned some of the challenges as delays in clearing of cargo, strikes by drivers, increasing prices of fuel and high operation costs among others. Mr Davis Mosha and Azim Dewji of Delina and Simba Trailers, respectively, called for unity among the truck owners, saying there was also a need to have a strong organization that would advocate for their welfare.

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