New East African ports aim to boost maritime business

Container ship Olga MaerskIn Uganda, the government has contracted the Chinese Civil Engineering Construction Company to conduct a feasibility study for a new US$3bn port at Bukasa on Lake Victoria.

Just like the development of Mwambani and Musoma, the construction of New Kampala Port at Bukasa is jointly funded by the governments of Uganda and Tanzania.

An estimated 800 acres of land has been identified for the port development.

The port will hold increased volumes of cargo and new convectional containers as the multipurpose harbour is slated for construction.

It will link up cargo offloaded from steamers and other vessels from Musoma for onward land transport to Kampala, the Ugandan capital.

The Tanga-Musoma-Kampala route is expected to save time lost clearing goods at the congested Mombasa port, lower handling charges and shorten transit time.

A new port in the island of Zanzibar has also been planned for construction to ease congestion at its Malindi port. Its current port handles between 140,000 and 160,000 tonnes of general cargo annually and approximately 25,000 tonnes of liquid cargo, mainly petroleum and edible oils. It handles more than 90 per cent of all Zanzibar cargo.

The new port to be located at Mpiga Nduri in Ungunja will increase the island’s capacity to handle large ships and increased cargo.

Currently, Malindi port is not able to dock more than three cargo ships at once and does not have enough container terminals. The development of new ports is expected to reduce the cost and time taken to clear cargo at the ports where most of the delay takes place.

Indeed, business leaders have lamented the expensive nature of cargo transport in the ports, rails and roads of the region.

Rosemary Mburu, a consultant with the Institute of Trade Development, said, “It takes 28 days to move a 40 ft container from the port of Shanghai in China to Mombasa at a cost of US$600, while it takes 40 days for the same container to reach Bujumbura from Mombasa at a cost of US$8,000.”

Experts have claimed that the expansion of port facilities will also promote the development of Export Promotion Zones (EPZ) and Special Economic Zones (SEZ).

In the last year, investors from China, India and Japan have been seeking licenses to start businesses in EPZs in Tanzania where they reportedly plan to invest US$150mn.

Mwangi Mumero

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