A THIRD generation cargo ship, Maersk Cubango with a length of more than two football pitches and capacity of carrying 4,500 containers docked at Dar es Salaam port on Friday with the Minister for Transport, Dr Harrison Mwakyembe saying reports that the country's major port cannot handle mega cargo ships are untrue.
Dr Mwakyembe who led a group of senior Tanzania Ports Authority officials led by acting Director General, Madeni Kipande, to welcome home Captain Abdul Mwongamno and his crew who sailed the Hong Kong flagged mega cargo ship from Nigerian port of Lagos to Dar es Salaam, said such ships have always been confined to Mombasa port.
"Until today, it was believed that having this kind of ship docked at Dar es Salaam port is impossible," Mr Mwakyembe said as TPA officials and other stakeholders hugged Capt Mwongamno and his crew who took 10 days to sail the gigantic cargo ship to Dar es Salaam.
"We need to work day and night to ensure that this ship is cleared as soon as possible as holidays are approaching.
I have requested banks to offer their mobile branch services here throughout the weekend and TRA long room services also to be functioning throughout the weekend," the minister pointed out saying the target is to have 13 million metric tonnes of cargo handled by the port by the end of the year.
He said following two days of cargo trucks boycott, the port was facing a backlog of cargo waiting clearance hence with the arrival of Maersk Cubango, much more work is at hand hence the decision to work over weekends and public holidays.
According to Marine Traffic website, the container ship which was built last year is 249 metres long with a 37 metre width and grosstonnage of 50,869 tonnes.
Mr Kipande said in a bid to break the myth, his management approached Maersk Line and convinced them to bring the ship to Dar es Salaam. "After doing our own assessment with my captains and engineers we were convinced that this ship can dock here hence convinced Maersk to bring it over," Mr Kipande said.
Calling the development a milestone in the history of Dar es Salaam port, he said such mega cargo ships are important because they cut down freight costs hence prices of imported goods also go down.
Maersk Line Country Operations Manager, Amos Mwansumbule said his company is willing to bring its third generation of mega cargo ships to Dar es Salaam provided the infrastructure accommodates such vessels.
"We are happy that with TPA management we have made this maiden visit of our mega ship possible," Mr Mwansumbule said while stressing that TPA had also lifted restrictions imposed on such mega ships to quay at Dar port in the past.