In a bid to boost transit traffic to Uganda, Tanzanian port authorities are intensifying efforts to court Ugandan businesses, amidst concerns over stagnant cargo figures at the Dar es Salaam port. Despite significant investments aimed at enhancing port infrastructure and efficiency under the Dar es Salaam Maritime Gateway Project (DMGP), only two percent of Uganda’s cargo currently passes through the port, with Mombasa maintaining a dominant share of 80 percent.
The DMGP, a $421 million initiative launched in 2017, has seen considerable improvements in port infrastructure, resulting in impressive growth rates in container and transit traffic. However, challenges persist along the Central Corridor, including high transport costs, infrastructure deficiencies, and delays in cargo clearance, hindering Dar es Salaam’s ability to compete effectively with Mombasa.
Recognizing the need for collaborative efforts to address these challenges, the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) recently convened a workshop in Kampala under the theme “Facilitating an Efficient Logistics System Through the Central Corridor.” During the workshop, TPA officials acknowledged the existing inefficiencies and emphasized the importance of stakeholder collaboration between Tanzania and Uganda to realize the corridor’s potential.
Despite Tanzania’s efforts to attract Ugandan businesses, logistical considerations such as cost-effectiveness and efficiency continue to favor Mombasa as the preferred port of entry for many traders. Ugandan traders highlight factors such as lower transportation costs, faster cargo clearance, and shorter transit times from Mombasa compared to Dar es Salaam.
To address these concerns and increase the attractiveness of Dar es Salaam port, TPA is offering incentives such as 30-days free storage for all imports and a dedicated goods-shed for consolidation and deconsolidation purposes. Additionally, Tanzania is exploring the possibility of establishing inland container depots closer to the Uganda border through Public-Private Partnerships to improve accessibility and serve as a strategic transit hub.
In response to Tanzania’s overtures, Uganda’s Ministry of Works and Transport is pursuing initiatives such as the development of a tri-modal port at Bukasa and seeking private partnerships to enhance port infrastructure and inland waterway facilities. These efforts aim to optimize multimodal transport networks and improve connectivity between Tanzanian ports and Uganda’s hinterland.
As both countries seek to unlock the full potential of the Central Corridor, collaboration between public and private sectors will be critical in addressing infrastructure challenges, reducing logistical barriers, and ultimately fostering greater trade and economic integration between Tanzania and Uganda.