Tanzania traders ditch Dar port for Mombasa

A section of the Port of Mombasa
A section of the Port of Mombasa

The Tanzania business community is gradually increasing its use of the Port of Mombasa citing too many bureaucracies at Dar-es-Salaam port.

An importer said Tanzanians are afraid of using their own port because of strictness, “where port management is afraid of making decisions for fear of annoying the presidency”.

The Tanzania Ports Authority staff are reportedly wary of an action by President John Magufuli, who sacked four senior officers including director general Awadhi Massawe and the authority’s board chairman Joseph Msambichaka in December.

The purge, said to “root out corruption and inefficiency at the port” saw at least 25 people sacked, including eight middle-level managers.

The slow decision-making has since been blamed for bureaucracies at the port handing over a brisk business to Mombasa, which is already clearing goods destined for Tanzania through the Single Customs Territory.

“More Tanzanian traders are now using Mombasa port to import their wares,” another importer told the Star.

The Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association confirmed increased activities in clearing cargo destined for Tanzania.

“Things have changed because of the new systems in place which have made importing through Mombasa faster and better. People are coming to Mombasa,” Kifwa chairman for Mombasa region, Eric Gitonga said in a telephone interview.

The East Africa Online Transport Agency said its Tanzanian clients and investors are on a wait-and-see situation.

“Uncertainty in Tanzania’s political environment is one of the issues coming up in regional forums currently. People are slowing down on investments and imports in Tanzania,” said EAOTA marketing director Nyambura Gitonga.

Tanzania imports through Mombasa were 204,000 tonnes in 2015, up from 187,000 tonnes in 2014, Kenya Ports Authority data shows.

“Tanzania’s use of the Port of Mombasa is increasing,” said KPA principal communication officer Hajj Masemo. The management has noted increased transit volumes to the neighbouring country.

Kenya is banking on the newly opened Taveta/Holili One-Stop Border Post to increase its trade with Tanzania.

The OSBP commissioned on February 27, has reduced the time trucks take to be cleared from 33 hours to nine hours.

Total transit cargo to the hinterland through the Port of Mombasa increased by 8.2 per cent from 7.2 million tonnes in 2014 to 7.7 million tonnes in 2015.

Tanzania has three per cent share, with Mombasa serving mainly Northern Tanzania areas of Tanga, Arusha and Usangi.

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