TANZANIA Ports Authority (TPA) plans to revolutionise its service delivery through exploitation of improved railway lines linked to Dar es Salaam port. The aim is to ensure smooth transfer of the bulk of goods on transit to neighbouring landlocked countries.
In partnership with Tanzania Railway Corporation (TRC), TPA Director General Deusdedit Kakoko believes that the strategy will fuel increased cargo transportation by the two institutions.
"The improved railway line will provide for faster movement of the volume of cargo than it is at present. The plan has been part of ensuring that the port provides efficient services to many countries," Kakoko said.
"As you can see, our TRC colleagues are installing a high speed train called Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), which will extend to the port to transport cargo, meaning that service delivery will be hastened," he said in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday during a meeting with journalists.
Journalists toured the port to see improvements made under the Dar es Salaam Maritime Gateway Project (DMGP).
A key feature for Dar es Salaam port as the country's principal terminal is its proximity to at least eight landlocked countries compared to other ports, as well as its ability to attract huge vessels.
The port attracts huge number of traders from all neighbouring countries of Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, DR Congo, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda.
"Due to the fact that the port investments go in hand with railway investments, we will be able to effectively and efficiently serve all our neighbouring countries," he added.
Currently, using meter gauge, Kakoko said a total of 17,500,000 tonnes of cargo are received at the port and transported to various destinations annually.
He said out of the 17,500,000 tonnes, 5, 000, 000 tonnes, equivalent to 34 per cent, are transit cargo, whereas only 500,000 tonnes (10 per cent) are passing on rails, meaning 90 per cent of the cargo is transported by road.
Kakoko said when the ongoing expansion programme is completed TPA looks forward to extending transit cargo through rail services to 20 per cent.
"What we are planning to do in the next phase is making sure that there is a train leaving the port after an hour... if we do that we can increase cargo on transit through rail by 20-25 per cent," he said.
He said that TPA in collaboration with TRC has recently secured five train carriages to ease the transportation of cargo off the port. He also noted that TPA is in talks with TRC to get extra 200 train carriages, which will only serve the cargo and not interfere with other TRC schedules.
He added that after that improvement, TPA does not intend to increase any toll because "our intention is to keep attracting more traders to use the port services."
To ensure that its goal is easily implemented, TPA is planning to construct the Ilala railway line, which will pass through the port's gate and station at a container terminal.
"At any time the contract for the Ilala railway line will be signed after which we expect the work to begin and be completed by December this year," he said.
According to experts, favourable economic growth prospects for the East and Southern Africa region will result in increased trade flows.
This puts significant pressure on Tanzania's port and transport infrastructure, suggesting further improvement of infrastructure investment and institutional reforms.
Experts say specific investments should prioritise port development and transport corridor infrastructure to facilitate regional trade connectivity.
Institutional upgrades can contribute to improve coordination in the hinterland access regime and encourage efficiency-enhancing reforms.
TPA has swiftly responded with a massive expansion project at the port of Dar es Salaam under the DMGP. The project worth 337bn/- has so far reached 90 per cent of its implementation.
This project is aimed at improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the port for the benefit of the public and private stakeholders.
The project involves construction works for all seven berths, which four of them have been completed, as the contractor now embarks on building the remaining three berths.
The work is set to be completed by April this year when the project would be handed over to the government in May this year.
Given Tanzania's strategic geographical location, it gives an advantage as traders from DR Congo, Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda find it less time-consuming and cheap to transport goods from the port to their destinations.