PUBLISHED ON September 1st, 2014

Dar pushes single customs territory, rail efficiency

In an effort to reduce congestion at the Dar es Salaam port, the government has begun to improve the central railway line including rehabilitating locomotives that will be used to transfer containers to East African Community member states.

This will go in tandem with the construction of international standard gauge railway line that will link partner states, including Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and Burundi as part of implementing a single customs territory which aims at enabling liberalized trade in the region.

The move is aimed at facilitating a quick clearance of consignments entering EAC territory through the port of Dar es Salaam.

The Deputy Minister for East African Cooperation, Dr Abdulla Saadalla made those remarks yesterday when speaking to members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) who toured the Dar es Salaam port to observe how it operates.

In implementing that strategy the government has already rehabilitated about eight locomotives to be used in transporting containers so as to reduce congestion along the port and reduce road damage caused by heavy trucks.

“In doing that, we are planning to improve port operations as well as having a standard gauge railway line that will connect neighbouring countries such as Rwanda and Burundi,” he said. Recent reports affirm that the construction of the 147kms rail track from Uvinza in Kigoma Region to neighbouring Burundi at international standard gauge is expected to start in December.

Constructing the railway is meant to facilitate transportation of nickel available in the region to the nearby country in bulky form.

For his part, Lusekelo Mwaseba, the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) acting commissioner general said that as part of implementing Single Customs Territory (SCT), petroleum products imported into Rwanda and Uganda through Dar es Salaam port are cleared under the scheme.

Mwaseba said that as it has done for the Northern Corridor, the move will reduce the cost of doing business by removing some non-tariff barriers, saving time that would have been spent on clearing of consignments at various customs posts.

He said that they use streamlined customs processes with no multiple declarations, no multiple security bonds and reduced interventions in terms of road blocks, checkpoints and weigh bridges.

“In the same regard, wheat grain imported into Burundi and Rwanda is also cleared under the new streamlined SCT procedures,” he said.
Tanzania Port Authority (TPA) director general Engineer Awadhi Massawe urged neighboring landlocked countries to continue using the Dar es Salaam port and enjoy value for their money.

He said that the port has significantly improved and efforts were still going on to turn around the facility through modernization.

“I encourage our neighboring countries to increase utilization of the Dar es Salaam port and enjoy newly improved and better services,” he said.

Commenting on competition from regional ports, Massawe said Dar es Salaam port has competitive advantage of the best geographical position and the government through TPA was working hard to capitalize on these advantages.

Meanwhile, EALA Speaker Dr Margaret Zziwa called upon the business community and other stakeholders to fully exploit the Single Customs Territory potential. She urged the region to exploit the ever-increasing trade opportunities, saying Dar es Salaam was another strategic port for consideration.

“Since the SCT aims at reducing transaction costs of business, we expect a reduction of prices so that goods can be enjoyed across the EAC region,” said Shyrose Bhanji, a Tanzanian EALA member.

In the same initiative Tanzania was preparing to deploy customs officials in four East African Community member states of Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi as one way to implement the Single Customs Territory (SCT), an initiative promulgated by the five East Africa Community (EAC) member states in late 2013.

The move is part of an effort to accomplish a tireless and diligent decision taken by members of the EA Legislative Assembly for the enormous task of making SCT a dream, a reality for the ideals of integration that requires each member state to send its customs officials to fellow member states.

The Acting Commissioner General of Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) Lusekelo Mwaseba said yesterday in Dar es Salaam that Tanzania is expected to deploy customs officials in other member states starting with Kenya in mid September.

He told the Guardian in an exclusive interview that under the move Rwanda and Burundi have already deployed their officials here a month ago. He explained the issue to members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) visiting the port of Dar es Salaam to see how the port operates, especially the technology used in handling goods for landlocked countries.

The EALA members are in Dar es Salaam to conduct a parliamentary session which started on Monday for a fortnight, coming to Dar on the basis of a rotational formal on EA capitals adopted in the course of this year.

The SCT initiative is a programme to reduce the cost of doing business by eliminating duplication of processes and unnecessary administrative costs, thereby creating a mechanism for the prevention of smuggling of goods at the regional level.

The initiative would also help to reduce risks associated with non-compliance in the transit of goods and enhance application of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and information exchange at the regional level.

The direct impact of the programme once in operation is that officials would make work easier by introducing electronic monitoring of goods using cargo tracking technology.

Source URL: IPP Media

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