SWEEPING reforms for service improvement at the Dar es Salaam Port have started yielding results, with especially transporters enjoying thriving businesses.

Tanzania Truck Owners Association (TATOA), a union of key cargo haulers to/ from the landlocked countries, has lately experienced business growth, thanks to a huge increase in cargo at the port.

“We are going through an impressive business trend…we registered a record 35 per cent increase in cargo last year,” TATOA Chairperson Angelina Ngalula told the ‘Daily News’ in Dar es Salaam over the weekend, adding: “…and there are signs of bright future.”

Soon after assuming office in November 2015, President John Magufuli introduced tough measures to cleanse the rot at the country’s largest sea port, vowing to squarely deal with all elements of theft, embezzlement and tax evasion.

The President’s move sparked uproar, leading to an abrupt drop of cargo ships at the facility. Some critics blamed the cleansing move, accusing the Head of State of crippling the port.

But, Dr Magufuli remained adamant, declaring: “I’m willing to see even one ship docking at the port monthly but adequately paying our taxes rather than having hundreds of them, with no tax collected.” Almost all stakeholders are today grateful to the President. “We indeed thank President Magufuli…he has created great business for us,” said Ms Ngalula.

Among the reforms that have boosted business at the port include improved infrastructure, intensified security on cargo, removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) on transit services and reduced road blocks.

“Cases of stolen cargo at the Dar es Salaam port are history today,” boasted Ms Ngalula. The country’s serious marketing strategy, which Dr Magufuli himself spearheaded, has also worked well for the country.

“During his reign, he (President Magufuli) has worked hard to cement commercial relations with Rwanda, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which are the major users of our port,” said the TATOA Chairperson.

Transporters and the Tanzania Port Authority (TPA) management too visited individual big clients in the landlocked countries and South Africa to convince them to use the Dar es Salaam facility.

During the period, President Magufuli also extended a free storage offer to the Congolese from the traditional 15 to 30 days of free storage. The offer has attracted more Congolese importers and exporters to the port. “Our customers are indeed happy with this (Dar es Salaam) port…that is why they are giving us good business,” a driver whose truck plies the Dar -Zambia route said in the city over the weekend.

Tanzania International Container Terminal Services (TICTS) said in its recent report that it had for the first time handled over 500,000 TEU in one year, registering a record annual throughput of 501,690TEUs.

“Transit bound cargo to the landlocked countries increased by over 35 per cent in 2017, compared to 2016,” TICTS Chief Executive Officer Jared Zerbe said in the report. TICTS, which is managed by Hutchison Ports, a global port operator with 48 ports spanning 25 countries, has invested heavily in new assets over the past 10 years and says it remains keen to expand under Public Private Partnership with its landlord, TPA. In the same vein, cargo ships have now been relieved from spending more days for offloading consignments at the Dar es Salaam port, with improved efficiency in discharging the shipment.

The ‘Daily News’ has learnt that the speed of offloading the containers and vehicles from the docked vessels at the port has increased, compared to the past one year. The Port Manager, Mr Freddy Liundim said currently, the port had the ability to offload and release over 600 cars a day, up from just 150 vehicles in the past year. During an interview with this paper, Mr Liundi stated:

“The port is now performing well from offloading the cargo and releasing it to the customers, different from the past experience.”

He attributed the positive trend to the new strategies that were put in place and provision of training to the staff at the department responsible for discharging cargo. “So, a lot of changes have taken place at our port and we are continuing to supervise it closely to attain higher efficiency,” he said.

He said the move to double the performance at the port, tightening security and affordability in using the port, had attracted many new customers, particularly from the neighbouring countries.

Mr Liundi further explained that on their side, they were handling cargo efficiently, but quite often, problems were caused by other institutions working at the port for receiving and handing over the cargo to customers.

Some of the institutions working at the port to clear consignment include the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA), Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA), Inland Container Depots (ICD’s) and other agents registered to assist the customers to export, import and clear the cargo from the port.

It has been pointed out, too, that some problems may stem from some customers’ failure to complete requisite procedures for clearing cargo properly and swiftly.

Source: The Daily News