IT was a beehive of activity on Thursday afternoon along Nelson Mandela Expressway at Kurasini Shimo la Udongo as drivers, mechanics and trucks' owners were busy mending their vehicle to beat next Monday's deadline when substandard trucks will not be allowed to enter Dar es Salaam port.
"We hope this is going to be uniformly enforced and not only target few strug- gling truck owners while leaving behind large fleet of substandard truck owners," said Ramadhani who owns six semi trailer trucks used to transport containers from Dar es Salaam port to 17 inland container depots in the neighbourhood. Mr Ramdhani said a similar directive some years back failed because big business people owning fleets of substandard trucks success- fully resisted the directive.
In a random survey, 'Daily News on Saturday' found drivers and their assistants struggling with mechanics to fix faulty trucks ahead of the dead- line given by Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) to bar all substandard trucks from entering the port area effective Monday. "You can see for your- self that most of these trucks are not roadworthy and endanger our lives as drivers.
Authorities should come hard on the truck owners to ensure that they com- ply with the new directive," said Mengi Hamisi. Mr Hamisi who was found at Kurasini Shimo la Udongo repairing his dilapidated semi trailer Sca- nia 320 with registration numbers T 518 AHT said his employer, one Ramadhani who has six trucks is capable of refurbishing the trucks and ensuring that they are roadworthy.
"We risk both our lives and those of other road users because of need, we hope that the government will enforce this directive so that truck owners can repair them or buy new ones," he said frustrated with the repair work which started early morning and was not done by 3 p.m. Another driver found at the same area's makeshift garages, Deo Mfumu said he hopes that government will enforce the new directive to save struggling casual driv- ers and their assistants who earn peanuts but engage in a dangerous job.
"It's high time this order was enforced in full instead of making public statements but failing to implement," argued Mfumu who was found repairing a dilapidat- ed Scania 192 with registra- tion numbers T 936 AJE. But Ramadhani also deplored the issue of poor payment for transportation of containers saying it con- tributes to the situation.
"We are paid between 40,000/- and 80,000/- per container as transport between the port and areas around here and further away to Ubun- go," he said while declining to provide his second name. National Traffic Police Chief, Mohamed Mpinga has commended Dar es Salaam port stakeholders for banning such trucks from entering the port.
Commissioner of Police Mpinga said the move by the country's prime port should be emulated by cement manufacturers, mining companies and Tanzania Revenue Authority's Customs and Excise Department. "This is a commendable move which should be emu- lated by other cargo deal- ing entities such as Tanga Cement, Twiga Cement, Mbeya Cement, Tanzania Railways Limited, TAZ- ARA (Tanzania Zambia Railways Authority) and TRA customs," Mr Mpinga said.
The Traffic Police Chief pointed out that the future of the country's cargo transporting sector belongs to modern roadworthy trucks which should spare other road users dangers of unnecessary accidents. "This move by TPA will assist very much in reduc- ing substandard vehicles on our roads in addition to the Police Force's efforts," he pointed out.
A member of Port Improvement Committee (PIC), Ashraf Khan and Truck Owners Association of Tanzania (TATOA) Sec- retary General, Zakariah Hans Poppe said a decision to rid the country's prime port of the substandard trucks was made by stake- holders during meetings last year.
"We gave truck owners a grace period to repair or replace their trucks prior to the ban which takes effect mid this month," said Mr Khan. He stressed that the TPA notice should be taken seriously and dismissed talk of an impending crisis as 90 per cent of trucks to be affected. "I don't think there will be any crisis because trans- porters were informed in advance last year and that necessary measures have been taken," argued Khan who is also Chairman of Container Depots Associa- tion of Tanzania (CDAT).
Khan said stakehold- ers have for a long time expressed concerns over the roadworthiness of many trucks transporting contain- ers and other cargo from Dar es Salaam port to inland container depots (ICDs) some of which are between 15 and 20 kilometres away from the port. "We are concerned by security at the port because most of the trucks are sub- standard and may cause unnecessary accidents," he underlined.
TATOA's Poppe assured port stakeholders that enough roadworthy trucks are available to meet demand of shipping cargo from the port to ICDs but hinted that transport costs will likely increase slightly. "Consumers should expect a slight price increase in our services because the quality of our trucks will improve very much," said Poppe who also supported the move to ban substandard trucks which have been a hazard to Dar es Salaam residents.
In a release this week, TPA said substandard aged trucks will not be allowed entry into the port and those drivers, "Are notified fur- ther that only accredited and licenced drivers will be permitted to drive into port premises, and shall always wear appropriate personal protective gear and shall observe a speed limit of 20km/h." Dar es Salaam port serves seven landlocked east and southern African countries of Burundi, Dem- ocratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia.