The government of Tanzania has resumed transporting cargo to Uganda through its central railway line after 10 years of suspended service, Chimp Corps report.
On June 24, 800tons of goods were transported from Dar es Salaam port to Mwanza.
Uganda’s High Commissioner to Tanzania, Amb Richard Kabonero said the cargo was later ferried via Lake Victoria to Port Bell in Kampala, Uganda in record-time of 3.5 days.
“The rehabilitation of the line from Dar to Kampala via Mwanza reduces transport costs by over $2,000,” said Kabonero.
This will be seen as a great step towards providing Uganda Shippers with an alternative trade route to the seaport.
The Mombasa – Kampala route has always been preferred as the first door.
Dar es Salaam Port is Tanzania’s principal port with a rated capacity of 4.1 million down weight tonnage (dwt) dry cargo and six million dwt bulk liquid cargo.
The port serves the landlocked countries of Malawi, Zambia, DR Congo, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda.
Over a decade ago the Dar es Salaam – Kampala, popularly known as the Central Corridor, used to be the other option for Ugandan traders to do international trade.
According to Trademark East Africa, Ugandan traders are now swarming at Mombasa Port as a seaport of choice.
On average, Uganda’s goods transiting through the Northern Corridor (Mombasa – Kampala) is 5.9 million tonnes per day.
While meeting a delegation of Ugandan traders at the sidelines of President Yoweri Museveni’s visit to East Africa’s second largest economy at the end of February 2007, Deusdedit Kakoko, the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) director general, said: “Previously, at least 30% of the Ugandan cargo used to be freight through Dar es Salaam Port. It has dropped to a per cent that is lower than 2.”
Reason for decline
Industry observers say the Central Corridor had been plagued with a number of complaints ranging from delayed service, inefficiency, loss of cargo and insecurity.
Because of this, there was a decline in cargo flow through the Central Corridor and 98 per cent Ugandan destined cargo is now being handled through the Northern Corridor.
Ugandan businesspeople had argued the Central Corridor which is 1,680 kilometres long was very expensive and it made no business sense to use.
At present Uganda uses the Northern Corridor, which is just about 1,150 kilometres, that runs from the Kenyan port of Mombasa to the Great Lakes which costs about $3,200 (Shs11 million) to transport a single container.
But the latest report showing cargo moving from Dar to Kampala in less than 3 days will give Mombasa a run for its money.
But Ugandan authorities would have to do more to increase exports from Uganda which are very low.
It wouldn’t make business sense to ferry cargo from Dar es Salaam and return empty trucks.
The Uganda Government is building a new port at Bukasa, will rehabilitate the 11 km road from Portbell to Kampala as well as refurbish about 250 train wagons to service transportation of goods through the Central Corridor.
The Tanzanian government says it is developing the roads, ports and railways to facilitate transport of goods and stimulate economic activities within the two countries.
The Tanzania Ports Authority also is developing the Dar-es-Salam port to meet the demands of its customers.