THE Dar es Salaam Port, through the government's Big Results Now (BRN) initiative, plans to raise the amount of cargo it handles to 18 million from the present 13.5 million tonnes by 2015.
Port Manager Mr Awadhi Massawe said the Tanzania Port Authority (TPA) also plans to improve other ports across the country, including Tanga and Mtwara as well as the Lake Victoria ports.
Mr Massawe was briefing the Finland Prime Minister, Mr Jyrki Katainen, who toured the port yesterday as part of his twoday official visit to Tanzania, which ended.
Apprising the Finnish leader on the port's improvement plans and challenges, Mr Massawe pointed to the deteriorating railway cargo transportation services as one of the setbacks that affected smooth operations.
The railway goods transportation network currently manages to handle a mere 1.2 per cent of the cargo while 98.8 per cent is transported via roads.
Mr Massawe expressed hope that TPA will be able to handle 41.5 million tonnes by 2018, noting, however, that availability of funds posed a major challenge. He also pointed to inadequate human resources to match with trade demands, changing shipping technologies and lack of bigger and functional inland cargo depots as further challenges.
The Finnish Premier, Mr Katainen, commended the government's Big Results Initiative programme, noting that it placed modernisation of the Dar es Salam Port at the centre of the country's reform agenda.
He said efficiency and reliability were vital assets for the port, noting that delays in cargo handling caused heavy losses that push prices high, in addition to passing on the cost burden to consumers.
The Finnish leader underscored the importance of the private sector in the port modernisation process and expressed his happiness in finding Finnish investments companies working at the port.
The European Union Head of Delegation, Ambassador Filiberto Sebregondi, said the union supported the modernisation of the Dar es Salaam port.
"The European Union is committed to be an active partner for dialogue and support to the Port of Dar es Salaam's modernisation process," he explained.
On his part, the Minister for Transport, Dr Harrison Mwakyembe, noted that Finland has for many years been a source of support in various areas, including provision of heavy duty cargo handling equipment.
He noted that Finland was working with TradeMark East Africa to promote East African ports aimed at reducing trade costs and increasing trade, activities that are essential in sustaining growth in individual countries and regional growth rates, with the focus to eventually reducing poverty.
On the handling of chemicals at the port, the Chief Government Chemist, Prof Samwel Manyele, assured the Finnish delegation that his office collaborated with TPA to ensure chemicals are correctly handled.
There were concerns raised by some of the visiting delegates over the country' laws on chemicals, noting aligned to the United Nations agreements that the country has ratified.
However, Dr Mwakyembe assured the visiting officials that the government will work on the concerns raised. TPA performance report for July 2012-February 2013 period shows that overall cargo traffic at the Dar Port during the eight-month period increased by about 20 per cent to 8,314,000 tonnes from 6,935,000 tonnes handled during the corresponding period in the year 2011/2012.
A latest Tanzania Economic Update by the World Bank says Tanzania can boost her annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by up to 1.8 billion US dollars (about 3trn/-) by merely improving efficiency at the Port of Dar es Salaam.
With its strategic location, the Dar es Salaam Port is the gateway for 90 per cent of Tanzania's trade, clearing 15 billion US dollars of merchandise annually. The port also provides vital access to six landlocked countries -- Malawi, Zambia, Burundi, Rwanda Uganda and Eastern DRC.
Meanwhile, PIUS RUGONZIBWA reports that the Finnish government and its private sector have expressed interest to come and invest in the country's land and housing sub-sectors, as well as assisting in land mapping and surveying technology.
A strong delegation of the Finish members of the business community led by the Minister for International Development, Mr Pekka Haavisto, said they are studying a number of areas for potential investment in the near future.
Mr Haavisto, who paid a courtesy call at the Ministry of Land, Housing and Human Settlements, yesterday said his country will be ready for partnership in various technical areas in the land sector.
"Our two countries have enjoyed a long time close partnership and am glad to note that a number of Finnish companies will be ready to come here for some investments, particularly on the area of land use plan and more others," he said.
Earlier, the ministry showcased crucial areas in need of technical assistance from Finland like the development of Kigamboni Satellite City, Integrated Land Information System and land mapping and survey, among others.
The Minister, Prof Anna Tibaijuka, said Tanzania was badly in need of modern technology and skilled human resources in areas of land mapping and surveys, including high-skilled teams in implementation of existing and future land programmes and plans.