THE consensus reached recently by higher authorities in resolving the controversy over the disputed contract on expansion of the Dar es Salaam Port is highly welcome.
The move is highly welcome because, following the settlement of the dispute by relevant authorities out of court; the Chinese Government has picked a contractor, Chinese Harbour Engineering Construction Company (CHEC), to undertake the proposed expansion of the port. After the conclusion of the legal wrangle between Tanzania and another Chinese firm, China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), it is now hoped that the much-awaited expansion of the Dar es Salaam Port would start soon.
The expansion of the port will, among other things, reduce congestion at the facility and enhance efficiency in serving importers and exporters. Apart from serving Tanzanian importers and exporters, the port also handles transit cargo to several landlocked countries including Burundi, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia.
The Ministry of Transport and other relevant authorities should now speed up rehabilitation of the facility after wasting a lot of time in litigation and political theatre that witnessed a minister and his deputy lose their jobs. It should always be taken into account that in spite of its strategic geographic location; the Dar es Salaam port is not alone as a conduit of transit cargo to landlocked eastern and central African countries.
Failure to deliver port services up to the expected standards will simply make exporters and importers in Tanzania and neighbouring countries switch to other competitors. Unfortunately, there are many competitors around including Kenya's port of Mombasa, Beira in Mozambique and Namibia's Walvis Bay, apart from several others in South Africa and Mozambique.
It is also encouraging to note that the government has taken several measures to enforce discipline and good workmanship among the workers of the Tanzania Harbours Authority (TPA). The institution had for long been associated with many scandals, including fraud, inefficiency and theft of containers to the extent of driving away clients. This must be brought to an end.