Cargo destined to Rwanda through the Dar es Salaam port increased significantly in the recent years. Last year, the facility handled 950,000 tonnes compared to 630,000 tonnes handled in the 2012-2013 period.
Tanzania Port Authority (TPA) Director General Eng Deusdedit Kakoko revealed this in Dar es Salaam recently when he met with Rwanda ambassador in Tanzania Eugene Kayihura who visited the port to discuss more areas of relations.
Following major development along the Central Corridor that Dar port serves- Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and DR Congo- there has been intense competition with the Mombasa ports, which also targets the same market that has seen the two facilities invest in major reforms and huge infrastructure projects.
Tanzania has already signed a $154 million port expansion contract with a Chinese firm as part of plans to transform it into the region’s transport and trade hub.
State-run China Harbour Engineering Company will expand the main port in Dar es Salaam, repositioning it as a serious competitor to Kenya’s Mombasa port. The latter has also undergone a major upgrade in the past three years to improve efficiency and give it a competitive edge. These include the completion of Phase 1 of Standard Gauge Railway line linking the port with Nairobi, close to 500 kilometres away. The first phase of a modern container facility was completed last year.
The importance of the Dar port to both the countries has come to fore in the last few years. Last year, Rwanda preferred to construct its Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line linking it to Central Corridor instead of the initial plan to have the line connected to Northern Corridor through Uganda.
In 2013, Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) opened a liaison office in Kigali in 2013 to act as a link between Rwandan shippers and the Mombasa port, East Africa’s biggest gateway to global markets. Analysts argued that the move was to counter an increasing interest by the Rwanda shippers to move to the Central Corridor, which was on course of addressing its bottlenecks.
In a statement issued during the opening of the office, KPA said the new office would “cater for the business community in the transit market in Rwanda, routing their cargo through the Mombasa port.”
The Director-General stated that in its strategy to strengthen business relations with customers, the government through TPA has allocated space for storage of Rwanda cargo at the Kwala dry port, in Ruvu and called for Rwandan traders to use that dry port for their cargo and the Isaka dry port in Shinyanga in order to reduce travel time.
He said that TPA has already completed the construction of its liaison office in Rwanda for serving its customers from that country and was working on finalizing all procedures before official inauguration.
The Opening of the office will greatly help to strengthen our service to Rwandan customers who are using the Dar es Salaam port,”Eng. Kakoko said. The Rwandan ambassador Kayihura thanked the government of Tanzania for providing them with space to store Rwanda cargo.
“Currently the Dar es Salaam port has been handling at least 90 percent of all imported goods from Rwanda, thus putting a record of the rapid increase of Rwandan cargo handled at Dar es Salaam port,” ambassador Kayihura said.
The ambassador said his visit to the port was part of Rwanda’s efforts to strengthen trade relations between the two countries.