Tanzanian President John Magufuli
Tanzanian President John Magufuli

Large vessels from across the world will soon be able to anchor in Tanzania’s largest Dar es Salaam Port following upgrades undertaken by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC).

In July 2017, Tanzanian President John Magufuli officially launched the project to upgrade the east African nation’s largest port, which mainly involves the upgrade of seven existing berths and the building of a new berth.

The upgrade will enable large vessels with a load carrying capacity of up to 70,000 tonnes to dock at the port, while currently the port accommodates vessels with a capacity of under 30,000 tonnes, said Wallace Rugalema, a site engineer for CHEC, who has high expectations for the ongoing project.

“The upgrade of the Dar es Salaam Port by the CHEC will definitely boost the port’s handling capacity of cargo from across the world,” said Rugalema, adding that the upgrade project also deepens the anchorage and strengthens the yard at the port.

Feasibility report for the project shows that the port’s cargo handling capacity will be increased to about 17.65 million tonnes per year upon completion of the upgrade, a 26-percent increase over the current capacity.

Last year, Tanzanian Foreign Minister Palamagamba Kabudi said the expansion of the Dar es Salaam Port is a vivid example of Tanzania’s participation in the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, adding that the country is committed to unlocking the potential of interlinked production networks and value chains that are enshrined in the initiative.

According to the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA), the Dar es Salaam Port handles about 95 percent of the country’s international trade and serves the neighboring landlocked countries like Malawi, Zambia, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda.

The port is strategically placed to serve as a convenient freight linkage not only to and from East and Central African countries but also to the Middle and Far East, Europe, Australia and America, the TPA said.

For Tanzanian workers on the project site, upgrading their country’s largest port is an opportunity to update their own skills.

Rugalema said that Tanzanian engineers and trainees working on the project benefit from the technical know-how provided by their Chinese colleagues.

Edwine Christopher, the CHEC human resources officer, said that the project, 80 percent of which has been completed, provided jobs to 900 Tanzanians.

Asked how the COVID-19 outbreak impacted the project, Christopher said that CHEC management observed all prevention and protection guidelines provided by health authorities to ensure employee safety.

“The guidelines included hand washing, wearing of face masks and social distancing,” said Christopher, adding that “luckily all employees are safe to date.”

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