Monday, January 22, 2018

Service improvements at Dar port brings hope

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.

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