Dar es Salaam: The Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) has said it is confident the Dar es Salaam port will remain Zambia’s preferred routes for its bulky cargo despite Zambia’s plans to increase the use of Beira (Mozambique) port for its imports and exports.
Zambian President Rupiah Banda announced late last week that the country would make Beira its major port because it is its closest outlet to the sea. It will therefore serve as an alternative to Durban and Dar es Salaam ports. Plans are also under-way to build a railway to connect the two countries through Zimbabwe.
But speaking to The Citizen yesterday in an interview TPA Corporate Communications manager Mr Franklin Mziray said he was confident Zambia will continue using Dar port for its copper exports.
'Zambia has been using Beira and other ports for some time now, but it has almost always continued using Dar port for its copper exports, we are confident this will continue,' Mr Mziray said.
Latest statistics indicate that cargo traffic from Zambia through the Dar port increased from 684,277 tonnes in 2005 to 932,898 tonnes in 2009 due to increased copper production.
Mr Mziray said for years now Dar port has been one of the most efficient in the region but it was the poor inland transport that was the problem. Now with the Chinese determined to invest in the rehabilitation of the Tanzania Zambia Railways Authority (Tazara), the hope is that Dar port will continue to be competitive to Zambia, a major stakeholder at the port.
Tazara officials say once rehabilitation is complete the rail line would increase its volume of cargo from the current 15,000 tonnes to at least 72,000 tonnes per month.
The volume of cargo hauled on the railway line had drastically dropped to 15,000 per month a move which has given more business to road haulers.
To date, 97 per cent of haulage of exports and imports from/to Zambia is carried out by trucks, which is much more expensive.
Mr Mziray also said the increase use of Beira by Zambia should also be seen in a positive light, because it was advisable that the landlocked country kept more openings to the sea.
'Uganda had to reconsider about passing all its cargo through Mombassa when the post poll violence in Kenya almost kept its trade at standstill,' he said.
The Dar port is currently implementing a grand investments plan that will see a radical expansion more berths, and re-dredging of the port entry allow post-panama vessels to dock.
* Sourced by Zambian Watchdog from THE CITIZEN NEWSPAPER OF TANZANIA