Congestion at Tunduma border dry port, risks killing Dar es Salaam Port

Tunduma border dry port
Tunduma border dry port

Private sector stakeholders say the government should push for decongesting the border dry port at Tunduma to rescue the Dar es Salaam Port from collapse.

Congestion at the Tunduma, the largest border in Tanzania in terms of volume of transit cargo, makes Dar es Salaam Port unattractive to importers in East and Central African countries.

Currently, transit cargo traffic represents 30.4 per cent of total cargo handled by Dar es Salaam during 2013/14 but this could be affected if urgent actions to decongest the border town are not taken.
Speaking during a workshop to introduce freight exchange tool called E-Freightex in Dar es Salaam, the stakeholders said congestion at the Tunduma border was getting beyond control.

The Managing the Director of Great Lakes Frieght Ltd Fahmy Ahmed said: “I would like to request the government to speak to their counterparts, Zambia, to adopt pre-clearance of goods system or allocate land for Dry Port to rescue the situation.”
He noted that although the situation is worse on the Zambian side, still there is a lot to be done on the Tanzania side.

“It takes 45 days (to and fro) to deliver goods to Zambia, 15 days of which are spent at the Tunduma border. This costs us a lot of demurrage charges,” said Ahmed who is a member of the Tanzania Truck Owners Association (TATOA).

He said 80 per cent of all transit containers destined to Burundi, DRC, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia are charged demurrage charges by shipping liners for the delay to bring empty containers to the Dar es Salaam Port.

“We are given 40 days to return the containers. If it goes beyond that we have to pay demurrages and all this money, about $10 million annually, goes to foreign companies instead of remaining in Tanzania,” Ahmed explained.

According to Chief Mwakibete, Chairman of Teddy Junior Ltd, the Dar es Salaam Port, and Tanzania in general, is likely to lose business to Namibia’s  Walvis Bay, Namibia.

He said Namibia is currently constructing roads and bridges to facilitate the DRC and Zambia for the two countries to use Walvis Bay, instead of the Dar es Salaam Port.

“Walvis Bay Port Corridor (Namibia) has been given money by its government and they have representatives all over the world including Brazil, Tanzania, and Thailand just to make sure their cargo moves smoothly,” said Mwakibete whose company represents Walvis Bay Corridor in Tanzania.

The Director General of Tanzania Trade Development Authority (TanTrade) MS Jacqueline Maleko told the workshop that the government through sectoral permanent secretaries had talks with Zambian authorities in the past, but the move to install a dry port at Nakonde could not materialise.

“The government is very much aware of the problem. There are several ongoing efforts to discuss with Zambia to address the situation,” Maleko said.

The Tunduma discussion came up after some members of the workshop noted that in order for freight exchange system though E-Freightex, significant improvements needed to be done on eradication of road NTBs.
A freight exchange is an online service which allows truck owners to search for advertisements of cargo which need to be transported and freight forwarders or business people search for available trucks to transport their cargo.

According to the Acting Direct of Investment, Trade and Productive Sector from Ministry of East African Cooperation Bernard Haule, the E-Freightex mechanism could increase the bargaining power of transporters.

“It will also help them choose the most cost effective routes because they will have all options on their finger tips,” said Haule.

E-Freightex sensitisation workshop was organised by TradeMark East African (TMEA) and Tanzania Trade Development Authority (Tantrade) and was facilitated by a consultant, David Adolwa.