IT is now official. At last the new Standards Operating Procedures (SOPs) at the Dar es Salaam Port have been signed.This would allow the majority of operations to run for 24 hours and 7 days a week to improve performance at the country's Number One sea gateway.
If well implemented as agreed, the system will not only make the port most competent in the region but will also speed up clearance of goods, attract more businesses and contribute immensely to the economy.
The MoU signing ceremony was graced by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport, Dr Shaaban Mwinjaka, in the city on Monday who said the government will work hard to make sure the system operates as envisaged by working on the shortcomings raised to facilitate smooth operations.
"We planned to implement this system a bit earlier but delayed due to some faults which arose in the process. But as many of them are now addressed, we should be able to take off while monitoring the implementation," he remarked.
According to Dr Mwinjaka, one of the tasks awaiting the smooth working of the system is the reduction of heavy congestion of trucks going and coming from the port.
He reported that work on the construction of three lanes at the main road heading to the port through Kurasini to make it easier and convenient for the convoy of trucks to move is in progress.
The PS said the newly-formed Port Improvement Committee (PIC) will be revisiting the OSPs from time to time so that some issues that might arise in the course of implementation are timely worked out.
He challenged the stakeholders, including the Inland Container Depots (ICDs), to improve their efficiency to fit in the new system while other support services like commercial banks are set to open branches at the port and install their communications systems.
Speaking at the occasion, the Acting TPA Director General, Mr Madeni Kipande, said the new arrangement is one of the resolutions in the Big Results Now (BRN) initiative also touching the ports operations.
He said stiff competition currently going on in the region has to awaken TPA to adopt serious reforms to survive in the business.
However, stakeholders were of the views that the new system needs to set some Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that will be strictly followed by other players whose "business as usual" working style has been an order of the day.
The Tanzania Freight Forwarders Association (TAFFA) President, Mr Steven Ngatunga, said members were not convinced the new system would effectively work since it was missing some important elements to improve it.
"Signing the MoU is one thing but its implementation is another thing altogether. We need a timeframe as to when issues like Key Performance Indicators will be accommodated for all players to play their part accordingly," he observed.
Other members who signed the MoU are the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA), Tanzania Trucks Owners Association (TATOA) Tanzania International Container Terminal Services (TICTS), Tanzania and Zambia Railways Authority (TAZARA) and the Tanzania Railways Ltd (TRL) among others.