Dar es Salaam: The association of freight forwarders will collaborate with the state revenue collection authority to train clearing and forwarding agents as part of efforts to bridge the skills gap.
There are more than 630 clearing and forwarding companies in the country that have to grapple with the shortage of skills labour. According to estimates, the clearing and forwarding sub-sector has a shortage of about 1,000 personnel. The shortage of credible training institutes has led to the mushrooming of shoddy colleges that produce half-backed experts.
Having skilled freight forwarding agents is important to the thriving of trade. It is the agents who facilitate smooth flow of goods at the points of entry such as ports, airports and border points. The Tanzania Freight Forwarders Association (Taffa) has established its own freight forwarding training institute to train personnel in the clearing and forwarding industry, but the association seeks to utilize the expertise of the Institute of Tax administration (ITA), which belongs to the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA).
The two organizations signed, last Friday, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that provides for ITA to vet trainers employed by the Taffa freight forwarding, as well as, handle exams and certificates to graduates.
“Taffa institute will be providing the same courses offered by ITA the different will be only the locations, while ITA is located out of town Taffa is in the city,” said Patrick Mugoya Principal of ITA. The move between Taffa and ITA, is therefore, seen as an attempt to curtail shoddy colleges.
The Taffa institute, located in the city, has an annual capacity to enroll 70 students. The capacity would be increased in future, according to Taffa officials. The new institute will go a long way to increase skilled labour in the clearing and forwarding sub-sector in the country.
According to Dr Mugoya there is a shortage of skilled labour in the sub-sector, with only 895 students graduating from ITA in the last five years to serve about 639 firms. “There is, at least a shortage of 995 experts provided that all the companies employ an average of three experts,” he said.
On the other hand the president of Taffa Stephen Ngatunga said freight forwarding was important to revenue collection in the country.
“The agents are the ones who collect tax from clients and handle them to TRA, and they are the ones who look for customers who in turn pay taxes which increases revenue collection,” said Mr Ngatunga.
He urged all agents to work hard and professionally so as to attract more traders in Tanzania and discourage foreigners to do the freight industry.