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Tanzania Ports Authority: 20 Years of Port Excellence 

As both landlord and operator across Tanzania’s ports, the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA), has spent the last 20 years promoting, managing and developing the region’s ports and facilities towards the future. The ports of Tanzania provide vital cargo shipment potential for the country and its surrounding hinterlands, and so the ports under the Authority’s management play a vital role in serving Tanzania and the landlocked countries it borders. In recent years, there have been key projects in place to develop the region’s port facilities and meet the growing demand for cargo materials across Tanzania and into Eastern Africa.  

TPA was established in 2004 by the Ports Act No.17 to act as a landlord which would operate the system of ports serving Tanzania, and its neighbouring countries. Over the last two decades, TPA has overseen the diverse system of sea and inland waterways across the region, made up of 3 major seaports, and a range of smaller seaports and lake ports. The purpose of TPA is to develop and manage these ports by providing world-class maritime services to every single vessel entering the authority’s network. These services keep cargo moving in and out of the region’s ports and onto both international and local end markets every single day. 

Therefore, as landlord and operator across the ports of Tanzania, TPA works to establish and coordinate the harbours systems, provide services to vessels, develop the ports and navigational aids, and provide warehousing for goods. In addition, TPA continues to provide amenities for facilities across the ports to make the use of services even more seamless and desirable for those entering the country’s ports.  However, what ensures that every operation under TPA promotes the ports and their role in keeping the cargo shipment industry running is the Authority’s code of conduct which fosters integrity, professionalism, teamwork, stakeholder focus, accountability, and transparency.  

A key aspect of TPA’s operations is in cargo services which work to help bring essential materials, machinery, and products both into the country as imports and out as exports. Cargo therefore plays a vital role not just in developing the economy in Tanzania, but also for its landlocked neighbours who rely on Tanzania and TPA to help bring vital cargo into the countries. To ensure cargo is moved with efficiency and reliability, TPA is well equipped with an array of machinery and equipment to handle a range of cargo types including containerized, dry bulk, break bulk and liquid bulk. For Tanzania, vital cargo materials include rice, wheat, maise, iron, steel, vehicles, and motor parts, as well as a whole range of petroleum products. Whilst this is not an extensive list of the key cargo materials entering and exiting Tanzania’s ports, it highlights the vast role the TPA plays in many different sectors and supply chains to keep these products moving.  

As the majority of this cargo arrives via shipping lines, TPA oversees a range of ship-to-shore operations and safety systems to help these vessels dock in the ports for essential offloading and re-loading of cargo. These operations include pilotage, tugging and mooring/unmooring services to help make porting just that bit easier. These are all available through TPA’s Vessel Traffic System (VTS) which is available to vessels 24 hours a day. Further to this, TPA has a range of vital and emergency support services on hand at the port in the form of emergency responses available to ensure the safety and well-being of all customers and employees across TPA’s span.  

TPA’s operations cover 3 major seaports, as well as various smaller seaports and lake ports in the Tanzanian inland waterways. A key port under TPA is the Dar es Salaam port which is the principal port for the country as has a capacity for 14.1 million metric tons of cargo and 6.0 million MT bulk liquid cargo across its site of operation. With 11 deep-water berths, the port is responsible for handling 95% of Tanzania’s international trade making the investment and development of this port a major priority for TPA.  

When we last looked at TPA we saw that major developments were underway to develop the berths at the Dar es Salaam port to help it continue to serve countries such as Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Burundi, Rwanda, Malawi, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. As of December last year, the contract to widen the entrance channel and port turning basin at Dar es Salaam was completed. The entrance, berths and turning basin now ensure that the port can handle larger vessels with an overall length of 294 metres (m), a beam of 32m and a draft of 13.5m. This means that vessels can now enter the port without tidal restrictions, and those over 305m in length with a beam of 40m and a draft of 14.5 m will now also be able to dock at berths 1 through 7 with some tidal restrictions.  

Other vital ports under TPA include Tanga which is the longest-serving seaport in the East of Africa and has vital highway links to its sister port, Dar es Salaam. The port’s strategic location in the northern region allows it to play a vital role in the movement of cargo from neighbouring countries such as Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, and southern parts of Uganda. One of the main perks of the port is that it has no tidal restriction for vessels entering or leaving the port, as its location provides a natural and well-sheltered bay for shipping services. The final major seaport under TPA is the Mtwara seaport in the south of Tanzania, close to the border of Mozambique. The port dates back to its construction between 1948 and 1953 alongside the vital railway line running from Mtwara to Nachingwea. The port currently can accommodate four ships and a coastal vessel at one time along its 685m quay wall. TPA has been developing the port over recent years and is planning to introduce a new and more reliable solar-powered navigational aid to help more vessels into the port.  

As we can clearly see, Tanzania is a vital location for essential cargo shipment and trade and therefore through its extensive network of ports across the country. The country boasts a wide array of seaports, as well as several inland lake ports such as Nyasa, Tanganyika and Lake Victoria. Therefore, the role that TPA continues to play in keeping all of these ports running smoothly cannot be understated. Instead, with 20 years of experience behind them, TPA continues to promote the port industry in Tanzania by providing essential regulation, handling, ship-to-shore and safety measures to ensure that this industry continues to give back to the people of Tanzania and its surrounding regions. We look forward to seeing how developments across the ports continue to evolve and expand over the coming years as TPA continues to cement Tanzania as a vital porting location in East Africa.