THE Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) is planning to categorise and classify all its existing ports, a process that will enable the authority to have regional and district terminals in areas with major water bodies.
TPA Director General, Engineer Deusdedit Kakoko, speaking to reporters here on the performance and future plans of the Authority, expressed the authority's determination to unlock potential that has been unexploited for years following the collapse of the marine transport in the country, especially in major Lakes.
According to Engineer Kakoko, the categorisation and classification process of the terminals is part of an ongoing midterm review of the 20-year Port Master Plan whose implementation started in 2009 and is expected to last until 2028.
He said in grouping the terminals, the Authority may come up with six levels, each with its own criteria.
Currently, Dar es Salaam Port operates as a principal terminal and is led by a director while Mtwara, Tanga and Mwanza ports are led by managers.
He said the move seeks to enable each region and district have their major ports that may attract traders to switch to railway and marine transport in cargo haulage instead of using roads, a practice that costs the nation dearly.
Engineer Kakoko argued that when cargo is transported overland for more than 500 kilometres, a respective trader gets little profit compared to railway or marine transport.
Currently, there are 86 formal ports and 601 unofficial ports in the country, the TPA boss revealed, noting the process of categorising and classifying them will involve expanding the existing ones, including availing cargo handling equipment and installing all necessary electronic revenue collection system.
He insisted that the classification process will go down to the cluster ports (small ports) that operate at village level as all terminals in the country, irrespective of their status they have, will in the near future be run by TPA.
However, he said local authorities will also be involved in overseeing the operations of ports located in their respective areas.
Engineer Kakoko warned that no stone will be left unturned until all unofficial and privately-owned ports that operate in all major water bodies in the country are formalised.
The formalisation of unofficial and private terminals, will start next January until June, according to the TPA boss.
He claimed that by December last year TPA had identified a total of 4 37 unofficial ports in all water bodies (Indian Ocean and lakes) but recently such figure rose to 6 01, meaning that as the Authority makes efforts to start formalising them individuals create others.
Engineer Kakoko urged Regional and District Commissioners and other local government leaders to support the plan that aims at not only increasing government revenue but also keeping the country safe from dangerous elements.
"If people were used to deviating from formal systems it's now high time they got back on the right track so that we move together and with a common goal," Engineer Kakoko stressed.
On reducing ports' fees the TPA boss said the Authority has been listening to the customers on their plea to reduce charges to enable them benefit from the infrastructure and contribute to the public coffers.
"If we reduce ports' charges we will get more customers and TPA will get profit, however small, that will help in our investment plan and dividend provision. Fortunately enough this is a directive from President John Magufuli and it is very important as it will give traders relief," Engineer Kakoko said.
He said though the decision to reduce ports' charges must involve Tanzania Shipping Agencies Corporation (TASAC) through public hearings, it is pertinent for TPA, on its own, to look into how it can reduce costs to make them affordable for all traders wishing to use its terminals.
However, he said, in implementing the plan, TPA has already reduced port fees at Kemondo terminal in Kagera Region and it will be ready to do the same at Magarini Port, should any need to do so arises.
According to Engineer Kakoko, Kyamkwikwi Port that was formerly operated by local government authorities in Muleba District, Kagera Region is now under TPA and it is currently undergoing expansion.