Dar es Salaam — A dispute over transit goods has left more than 300 containers stranded at Dar es Salaam Port causing congestion and inconvenience, The Citizen has established.
The 327 containers containing sugar, rice and cooking oil are currently being held at the port's container terminal because the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) is concerned that the consignments, destined for the Democratic Republic of Congo, could be diverted to the local market.
The goods have been held at the port for about four weeks now after importers failed to give assurance to TRA that the goods are on transit.
Sources said Congolese importers seem have been insisting that they be allowed to transport the consignments as loose cargo, something that TRA objects to.
TRA director for taxpayer education Richard Kayombo said the goods are being held while the transporters were being given directions on how to continue on transit without diverting the goods for local consumption.
"They have been directed to continue on transit as containerized cargo because if they are transport the goods as loose cargo there is a danger of dumping them in the local market," he said.
Tanzania Freight Forwarders Association (TAFFA) secretary-general Tony Swai told The Citizen that the standoff between TRA and importers has caused containers to pile up at the port
"The consumable goods were shipped in by Congolese importers on the grounds that they would be on transit to DR Congo, but TRA suspects that there was plan to divert the goods to the local market," he said.
TPA director general Deusdedit Kakoko said the containers have overstayed at the port, disrupting operations and causing unnecessary congestion.
"This is really an inconvenience to the port. We are not a storage facility, we are a port," he said.
Mr Kakoko said if the consignments were not cleared in the next few days, Dar es salaam Port management would be obliged to send them to container depots at Ubungo for storage.
The port has a capacity to handle more than ten million tonnes of cargo annually that includes general cargo (3.1 million tonnes); containers 9,619,876 TEUs (1.0 million tonnes); and liquid bulk (6.0 million tonnes).
But the port has had a history of congestion that has reduced its competitiveness in the region. During the worst congestion periods a few years ago, container vessels were required to queue for an average of ten days or double that time before berthing.
The port is responsible for 14 per cent of trade for six landlocked neighbouring countries.