STARTING next month, the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) will compensate those who will lose their cargo at the Dar es Salaam Port.
The authority will use its own budget to pay back those who will lose cargoes at the port and later deduct the amount from allowances and salaries of those involved in the loss in one way or another.
Transport Minister Dr Harrison Mwakyembe told the Parliamentary Committee on Infrastructure on Wednesday that efforts to address the port's problems, including taking the management to task, has paid dividends. Presenting his ministry's report before the committee, Dr Mwakyembe said that efficiency at the Dar es Salaam Port has improved.
It now takes only seven days instead of 21 to offload cargo. Dr Mwakyembe reported that such efficiency has led to transport ministers from Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi to express their interest in using the port. "DRC is ready to let bygones be bygones and build a win-win relationship after being satisfied with the steps taken by Tanzania to address the problems TPA and the Dar es Salaam Port have been facing," he explained.
Earlier in his report, Dr Mwakyembe noted that DRC lost 32 containers with khanga, vitenge and tinned milk, prompting the association of business people in DRC and the government, through their ambassador in Tanzania, to make known their intention to stop using the port.
He noted that 56.8 per cent of containers that disappear under mysterious circumstances at the Dar es Salaam port belong to DRC. "It was difficult to just sit by without working on DRC claims, given that largest consignments going through the port is from DRC, compared to ones passing through the Mombasa Port," the minister explained.
Giving the parliamentarians a breakdown of the cargo passing through Dar es Salaam compared to other ports, he said 54 per cent of cargo bound to Kivu in the DRC pass through Dar es Salaam Port, compared to 46 per cent in Mombasa. Fifty Two (52) per cent of Katanga-bound cargo passed through Dar es Salaam Port compared to 48 per cent passing through South Africa, Angola, Mozambique and Namibia.
He noted that losing DRC would have been a big blow to the nation's economy, especially at a time when neighbouring countries that were using the port, such as Uganda, Zambia and Malawi were largely using ports in Mombasa, Durban, Beira, Nacala, Maputo, Lobito and Walvis Bay.
"The Minister for Transport from DRC has been invited to visit the country for talks and also to visit the Dar es Salaam Port. The visit is aimed at assuring him that we have cleaned our house," he further noted. Dr Mwakyembe reported that government revenues have continued to grow since September last year from 28bn/- per month to 38bn/- and by December last year it had reached 50bn/- .
"The real picture will be more evident within the next three months, when we will have people working at the port working towards one direction," he explained. Cash transactions at the port have also been stopped, the minister explained, adding that all transactions will be conducted through banks. He said tough security measures have been taken, that have helped safeguard properties that would have otherwise been stolen.
Despite the good steps taken by the ministry, TPA still faces some challenges, including low capacity for the Dar port to accommodate big ships due to narrow and shallow jetty.
Last year, seven top officials at the TPA and Kurasini Oil Jetty (KOJ) were suspended pending investigations on several allegations including mismanagement, embezzlement and occasioning losses to the institution. Five of the suspended officials were later sacked and two whose allegations were not proved, were reinstated to their positions.
Those sacked included the TPA General Manager, Mr Ephraim Mgawe, and his two deputies, Mr Julius Mfuko and Hamadi Koshuma and Port Manager Mr Cassian Ng'amilo and the Oil Terminal Manager, Capt Tumaini Masaro. The two who were reinstated are KOJ Engineer, Mr Emmanuel Mataro and Jetty Master Capt Joseph Bwakabale.