TPA set to formalize 150 dumb ports

11Mar 2019
James Kandoya
The Guardian
TPA set to formalize 150 dumb ports

FORMALISING operations of nearly 150 dumb ports all over the country in order to administer tax and other controls at a minimal level and curb rampant smuggling is continuing apace, the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) has confirmed.

TPA Director General Deusdedit Kakoko.

TPA Director General Deusdedit Kakoko told The Guardian in an interview yesterday that the move has been necessitated by the need to control the flow of goods in and outside the country as well as checking landing of undocumented persons.

TPA is finalising the process of dumb ports formalisation in the midst of objections from various quarters in the government, backed by surveys conducted by TPA in collaboration with other public agencies which identified hundreds of porous entry and exit points.

“The 150 points of entry meet the criteria for formalisation. Customs officials will be deployed there to control entry and exit of people and goods as well as collect government revenue,” he asserted.

Currently port managers for lake and sea ports are finalizing the submission of names of dumb port locations for the same to be presented to ministerial authorities for approval.

Items shipped in through dumb or unrecognized entry points include sugar, cooking oil, cement, timber, as well as facilitating the export of crops and minerals, operations which upset revenue projections and disturb the market by landing untaxed goods, sold at significantly lower prices.

Stakeholders say illegal entry points contribute to the killing of local industries owing to dumping of merchandise from near and far, thus the resistance to formalise many illegal points of entry.

Kakoko said that TPA had already identified most formalization potential entry points, and met with stakeholders including district council officials in respective areas before pursuing the final formalization procedures.

“Port managers in respective areas are finalising the process of sorting and submitting the names of ports that qualify to be formalised. All those that do not qualify will be excluded from this exercise,” he said.

Illegal ports are currently estimated to have increased from 138 identified initially, with estimates of all functioning dumb points varying with individual experts, while the TPA management feels they may well be over 400.

Engineer Kakoko said porous entry points are littered on the shores of the sea and inland lakes such as Lake Tanganyika and Nyasa, bordering neighbouring countries.

Major ports are Dar es Salaam, Mtwara and Tanga while TPA also oversees some other small ports like Kilwa, Bagamoyo and Pangani.

On Lake Victoria, formal ports include Mwanza, Kemondo, Bukoba, Nasio and Musoma while on Lake Tanganyika they are Kigoma, Kasanga and Kibirizi.

On August 12 last year, it was reported that about 134 illegal ports and 58 unregistered airstrips had been listed through which goods enter and leave the country, dampening government revenues.

The Minister for Works, Transport and Communications, Isack Kamwelwe mentioned this vast number of illegal ports and airstrips in a familiarization tour of Dar es Salaam port, where he held a meeting with the port management.

The porous entry points operate on 24 hour all week basis on the seashore and inland locations, with the revenue potential being considered as high.

 Kibirizi port, hitherto operating informally close to Kigoma municipality, collected revenues of 40m/- a month when TPA decided to post its staff to oversee it, the TPA chief remarked.

“These funds were being lost as undeclared income of a handful of individuals. If one porous port can generate Sh40m a month in revenue, how about 133 such ports located in various parts of the country?” the minister queried.

The government was currently reviewing existing legislation to enable the formalization of significant porous ports to fall under one umbrella for collection of government revenue, he said.

“We want to monitor them and this will scale up revenue collection and speed up development in the country,” he added.