Dar es Salaam and Mombasa Ports For Inland Freighting

The port of Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania may be just 1,380 kms from Kigali by road, but officials there have until now looked on helplessly as almost all Rwandan business slipped passed it to the Kenyan Port of Mombasa, a journey that is about 400kms longer through Uganda. Slightly above 50% of Rwanda’s shipments go through the Northern Corridor route; Mombasa-Kampala-Kigali, and the recent removal of police roadblocks, reduction in the number of weighbridges and improvements in cargo handling at Mombasa is making the route even more user friendly to Rwandan traders. Confronted by this rude reality, the Government of Tanzania recently dispatched a minister to Kigali on a mission to reassure the business community in Rwanda that the Port of Dar-es-Salaam is also putting behind its inefficient past.

Charles Tizeba, the deputy minister of transport and infrastructure, said congestion at the Port of Dar es Salaam will soon be history and the government had embarked on dismantling non-tariff barriers on the central corridor route.

Just like the Kenyan government did in July, Tanzania is cutting the number of weighbridges from eight to three. Moreover, they will be situated only at entry points. Weighbridges and police roadblocks are the main causes of delays to movement of goods and contribute to the high cost of doing business in East Africa, traders say. Yet despite that glaring fact, governments have until the recent meeting in Kampala by Presidents Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya maintained numerous checkpoints, weighbridges and police roadblocks.

Tanzania and Burundi were not part of the Kampala meeting, but Dar too seems to have woken up to the reality that trade barriers are counter-productive.

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