ARUSHA, Tanzania, March 13, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- A team of Ministers from EAC Partner States and the Secretary General of the East African Community Amb. Dr. Richard Sezibera is on a two-day on-spot assessement of the operations of the two major regional Ports of Dar es Salaam in the United Republic of Tanazania and the Mombasa in the Republic of Kenya.
Led by the Ministers responsible for the EAC Affairs, the team visited Dar es Salaam Port Monday 12 March and held discussions with Tanzania's Minister of Transport, Hon. Eng. Omari Nundu together with the Director General of Tanzania Ports Authority, Mr. Ephraim Mgawe and the Port Manager Mr. Cassian N'gamilo.
Hon. Eng. Omari Nundu commended the Ministers for the visit to the two ports arguing that the ports were real instruments for development in the region. He said the ports were connecting the region to the rest of the world and were facilitating the East Africans to do business as one people, one region with one destiny.
He recalled that some time back Dar es Salaam Port was not performing as was expectred due to numerous challenges. He however noted that the port had overcome most of the challenges and was now performing.
“A lot of improvements have been made in the port by the government and TPA,” affirmed the Minister adding that plans were underway to develop greenfield ports in Bagamoyo,Tanga and Mtwara.
The Director General of Tanzania Ports Authority, Mr. Ephraim Mgawe informed the Ministers that up to 2008, average dwell time was over 20 days but this has now been reduced to 10 days and efforts continue to achieve set target of 5 days for containerized cargo.
He said concerted efforts by stakeholders under government supervision led to a number of actions to improve cargo clearance from the port and reduce dwell time. The Director General added that the use of Internal Container Depots (ICDs) for containers since December 2007 and the introduction of 24/7 port operation in gate 5 since 2008 have all positively impacted ports operations.
Others include the use of Container Freight Stations for motor vehicles since May 2010, a process towards the establishment of the Port Community System (Electronic Single Window System, eSWS ) as well as the introduction of Computerized Cargo Clearance at TPA since September 2011; the dwell time awareness campaign and provision of offices for all cargo interveners (Other Government Departments-OGDs) since 2008 and the establishment of ''One Stop Centre'' at the port in February 2012.
The objective of the working visits to the ports is premised on the fact that the two ports have been indentified as one area where non tariff barrriers (NTBs) occur due to delays in clearing goods and congestions among others.
The Ministers are appraising themselves to the existing problems, solutions that have been introduced, and ongoing reforms at the ports. The Ministers are assesing the real time in clearing goods at the ports, reforms that have been introduced, the existence of single widow programme and 24-hour operations, the grace period given to exporters/importers to clear thier cargo without demurrage and proposals on improving operations at the ports.
The Ministers responsible for Trade, Industry, Finance, Investments, Transport, Immigration and Security are scheduled to hold a dedicated Ministerial session on elimination of NTBs in the regional bloc from 14-15 March 2012 at the Nyali Beach Hotel in Mombasa, Kenya.
Kenya's Assistant Minister for East African Community Affairs, Hon. Peter Munya will represent the Chairperson of the EAC Council of Ministers, Hon. Musa Sirma.
Uganda's First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for EAC Affairs Rt. Hon. Eriya Kategaya is leading the Ugandan delegation comprising the Deputy Attorney General and Minister of State for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Hon. Frederick Ruhindi; State Minister for Trade and Cooperatives, Hon. David Wakikona; State Minister for Transport, Hon. Dr. Stephen Chebrot; Uganda's High Commissioner to Tanzania, Amb. Ibrahim Mukiibi.
Burundi's Minister of Transport and Telecommunications, Hon. Moise Bucumi and that of Public Security, Hon. Gabriel Nizigama; the United Republic of Tanzania's Minister for EAC Hon. Samuel Sitta; Rwanda's Minister of Trade and Industry, Hon. Francois Kanimba and the Rwanda Chamber of Commerce President Mr. John Bosco Rusagara are taking part in the assessement of the two ports.