DAR ES SALAAM Port is set to handle a cargo flood starting next week when the World Food Programme (WFP) will be using the port to transport consignments of food to East and Central African countries.
Briefing reporters on the WFP officials' tour at the port in the city, the Tanzania Ports Authority acting Director General, Mr Madeni Kipande, said that a WFP ship with a food consignment of 10,000 tonnes would be docking at the port after every two weeks.
"Previously WFP used to ship cargo to South Sudan via the Mombasa Port but the agency will from next week start using Dar es Salaam port," said Mr Kipande after taking the WFP delegation to the port terminal.
He said the first ship with a sorghum consignment to Southern Sudan would dock at the port next week and that the agency would be using the port to transport the cargo to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and Zambia as well.
The WFP delegation led by Executive Director Ms Ertharin Cousin, toured the port to assess WFP's operations as well as see the central logistic hub that is vital for the UN organisation's work in Africa. She was accompanied by WFP Goodwill Ambassador, Mr Howard Buffet.
Ms Cousin noted that WFP was committed to feeding more than 90 million people in more than 70 countries and that the port would be facilitating the transportation of the WFP food consignments to land-locked countries. "I am pleased to see good infrastructure and the efficiency of operations at the Dar es Salaam Port," said Ms Cousin, whose visit to Tanzania was the first as Executive Director of WFP.
More clients are reported to be relocating from Mombasa Port to Dar es Salaam in the run-up to the Kenyan polls next month. Tanzania Shipping Agents Association (TASAA) Chairman Emmanuel Mallya said in Dar es Salaam recently during a new year's party that Tanzanians should pray for their Kenyan peers to conduct elections peacefully.
"Now, as we wish our Kenyan neighbours good tidings in their coming general election, we should consider Tanzanian ports more as complimentary sister East African ports rather than the conservative view of competing ports though by and large competition enhances efficiency," Mr Mallya said.
He pointed out that dynamics in ports and the shipping industry in the east African geographical trading saw Dar es Salaam port over congested in 2007/8 after a post election violence drove away customers from Mombasa port.
"Just to mention some few dynamics, six years ago experts in port and shipping together with their logistics partners could not fully comprehend the business spill-over effect on Dar es Salaam port in terms of cargo congestion following Kenya general elections," Mallya noted.
Mallya also pointed out that last year, the country's prime port witnessed a growth of over 10 per cent on the market share compared to year 2011 and that this year, growth is expected to reach 15 per cent of which transit traffic will account for over 30 per cent.
He touted rapid construction of Berth 13 and 14 at Dar es Salaam port, Mbegani port in Bagamoyo, Mwambani port in Tanga and the upgrading of Mtwara port to cater for forecasted growth in southern regions to accommodate transit cargo volumes. "We need to be ahead of demand always.
You will agree with me that roads alone cannot handle such a traffic in the coming years which then pose an urgent requirement of having the country's railway system running efficiently again," he said.
Transport Minister, Dr Harrison Mwakyembe who is cracking down on graft at Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) has already undertaken a marketing campaign targeting landlocked Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Uganda which had started abandoning Dar es Salaam port due to various reasons.
Last month, Uganda State Minister for Works and Transport, John Byabagambi, signed a memorandum of understanding with Dr Mwakyembe, guaranteeing to provide 200 wagons and two locomotives to facilitate cargo shipment from Dar port to Mutukula border post where a dry port is also being touted.
Statistics show that only one per cent of Uganda's cargo was transported through Dar es Salaam port in 2011, while 99 per cent was shipped through Mombasa port in Kenya.
Permanent Secretary in Ministry of Transport, Mr Omar Chambo, said the government was planning to earmark a budget of 150bn/- in the coming financial year for major improvement of the central railway line in order to facilitate cargo transportation from Dar es Salaam Port to the landlocked countries. He pointed out that the fund would be for renovating 274 wagons and purchasing new 22 wagons and 8 locomotives.