Dar es Salaam — Mtwara Port will operate 24 hours a day in order to fast-track and streamline cashews transportation during the 2021/22 trading season, according to the Cashewnut Board of Tanzania (CBT).
Alongside the port, the government has permitted the movement of cashews in 24-hours from cooperatives and approved warehouses to the port throughout the new trading season commencing in October 1, 2021.
CBT acting director general Francis Alfred told The Citizen during an interview that the government's decision aims at increasing efficiency in the movement of cashews from cooperative unions to the port and later to destined foreign countries.
"Mtwara Port will operate in 24-hours. Therefore, the government has also allowed transportation of cashews heading to the Mtwara Port to be done in 24-hours to align with the performance of the port and increase efficiency in the exports," he said.
Mtwara port regional manager Juma Kijavara said a minimum of 250,000 tonnes of the produce was expected to be handled this season.
He said the Port was ready for the challenge especially after it completed the expansion project that has increased its capacity of handling goods to one million tonnes annually from the previous 400,000 tonnes.
Mr Kijavara expressed hope that clients will soon start fielding applications for the cashew cargo that would be exported to different parts of the world.
"A total of 184,656 tonnes of cashews was transported in the 2019/2020 agricultural season through the port.
A total of 215,852 tonnes of the produced was exported via the gateway in the 2017/2018 and 2016/2017 trading seasons respectively," he said.
He projected the port would be busy in receiving big ships that will arrive to collect and transport cashews from the southern regions of Mtwara, Lindi and Ruvuma for exports.
The initiative to fully utilise the port for transportation of cashews was issued by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa who was concerned with Sh157.8 billion used for the strategic improvement of the Mtwara Port.
According to the premier, improvement of the port was accompanied with the provision of additional equipment for containerization traffic and general cargo.
Touring the Mtwara Port on July 26, this year, Vice President, Dr Philip Mpango instructed deputy minister for Agriculture Hussein Bashe to ensure that imported agricultural inputs such as sulphur and liquid chemicals are destined to southern regions through the Mtwara Port.
"Exports from southern regions such as cashews and peas should be transported through the Mtwara Port. There is no reason for congesting the Dar es Salaam water gateway," said Dr Mpango at the Port.
He challenged TPA to constantly communicate with its clients in order to understand integrity levels of its officers, observing that theft of properties and equipment belonging to clients tarnished the image of the port and therefore prospective customers.
"The regional commissioner (Brigadier General Maiko Gaguti), you have all the machinery with you. Keep a close eye at the Port on behalf of the government by establishing what is imported and exported for the interest of the country," he said.
TPA harbour master Abdullah Mwingamno said Mtwara Port stood third behind Dar es Salaam and Tanga.
"The port is a key element of the Mtwara Development Corridor which is a scheme for provision of better transport links between the southern part of Tanzania (Lindi, Mtwara and Ruvuma regions) and neighbouring countries of Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique," he said.
The corridor is expected to develop roads and rail networks linking Lake Nyasa to neighbouring countries.
According to him, the port can handle 200,000 TEUs, with 27,500 square metres of stacking yards and 3,500 TEUs stacked five high.