The restoration of trade relations between Tanzania and Democratic Republic of Congo is expected to boost freight forwarding companies’ capacity to re-employ about 6,000 workers who were previously laid off.
The workers fell victim after the logistics companies opted to reduce the number of employees in order to reduce operation costs following the drop in cargo volume through the Dar es Salaam port.
Among other factors, the companies diverted their consignments to other ports, such as Mombasa. Cargo traffic through the port dropped by 13.3 per cent in March, this year, compared to the same period last year.
Cargo to and from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zambia dropped by 14.4 per cent and 27.9 per cent, respectively.
The market segments of the two countries contributed about 60 per cent of the port’s transit market share. But, a new chapter was opened after DRC President Joseph Kabila visited the country on Tuesday this week during which he and his host, President John Magufuli, sorted out some of the challenges that afflicted the traders of the two countries.
Yesterday, Tanzania Freight Forwarders Association (TAFFA) described the move by Dr Magufuli to foster stronger ties with DR Congo as ‘new hope’ for their businesses. “We are now expecting that our member companies would bring back their 6,000 workers whom they laid off,” the secretary general of TAFFA, Mr Tony Swai, said.
Mr Swai said the recent development over modalities in using the port would open up the doors for business people, not only from the DRC but also elsewhere. “On behalf of the association, I thank President Magufuli for facilitating and attracting the Congolese traders to revert to Dar es Salaam port,” he said.
He pointed out that the decision was welcome since the Dar port was fundamental for the country’s economic growth. “President Kabila when he came here he said the port was not only ours,” he recalled.
“I commend Dr Magufuli for extending the grace period for DRC-destined cargo from 14 to 30 days in which cargo at the port will be exempted,” he said. He added that this was among challenges that deterred the traders from using the port.
He praised Dr Magufuli for improving the central railway line. The railway is not capable of carrying more cargo to Kigoma and neighbouring countries. He said the move would help in addressing delays in moving cargo from Dar es Salaam port to other destinations, considering that Tanzania Railway Limited (TRL) currently has enough cargo wagons. “We would encourage our members now to use the railway to transport their goods,” he pledged.
The decision to make Tanzania Investment Bank (TIB) serve the traders at the port was also a good idea, according to him. He said that since the bank has arranged to work from 8:00 am to 11:00 pm and could extend more time for service if there could be congestion of cargo at the port.
“He has done a very good job, though there are some minor challenges that he also promised to address. We support him,” he said.