COMMERCIAL banks should provide loans while the government puts in place conducive environment for local shipping stakeholders to own cargo ships that will transport much of the country's imports and exports to and from outside markets.
The Tanzania Taxpayers' Association (TTA) Chairman, Otieno Igogo, Tanzania Shipping Agents Association (TASAA) Chairman, Emmanuel Mallya and Container Depots Association of Tanzania (CDAT) Chairman, Ashraf Khan said in Dar es Salaam yesterday that the private sector is committed to invest in Dar es Salaam Port infrastructure to improve efficiency.
"It's a pity that as a country we don't have a single cargo ship to carry our exports to the market and imports back home, all ships which we use are foreign owned," lamented Mr Igogo while officiating at Jefag Logistics ICD. He said that as the government has allocated billions of shillings to revive Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL), it's now time to also turn to the shipping industry which brings in billions of shillings in foreign currency. "We, from the private sector are investing in ICDs to improve the infrastructure but we also need strong government and banking sector support because these investments are very costly," Igogo who retired last year from the Tanzania Freight Forwarders' Association said.
While singing praises to President Jakaya Kikwete for accepting the private sector's proposal to introduce ICDs in 2008 as a means of decongesting Dar es Salaam Port, he said the idea has since turned into a success as the country's prime port improved on efficiency. CDAT Chairman, Mr Khan urged authorities to come up with a formula on how ICDs should be paid by Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) and Tanzania International Container Terminal Services (TICTS). "As things stand now, we are paid by defaulters' stores fee penalties which is not right because now many importers clear their goods on time," Khan noted. He said the private sector invests up to 10 million US dollars (over 15.9bn/-) in establishing an ICD with hope that the investment will recoup over the years but lack of an official payment arrangement between TPA and TICTS with ICDs since 2009 has made such payments impossible.
TASAA Chairman, who is also Jefad Logistics board Chairman, Mr Mallya said the new facility has the capacity of stocking up to 2,000 containers. "This new ICD is fully computerized and is operated by highly skilled maritime transport logistics chain experts," he said. Mallya said since their inception in 2008, ICDs now hold 40 per cent of containerized cargo which has assisted decongest the port of Dar es Salaam and improve government revenue collection.
"The trend shows that container cargo coming through Dar es Salaam Port has been increasing at between 10 and 13 per cent per annum hence the need to improve infrastructure to accommodate growing freight.